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Works by H, Rider Haggard 


ReeorttoH.M. 's Government on the Salvation Army Colonies in the 
United States, with Scheme of National Land Settlement. [Cd. 956*.] 

Cetewayo and nil White Neighbours. 

Rural England (a vols.). , A Gardener's Tear. 

The Poor and the Land. Regeneration. 

A Farmer's Tear. ) Rural Denmark and tti Leuoni. 

A Winter Pilgrimage. 


The Witch's Head. 


Colonel Quaritch, V.C. 

King Solomon's Mines. 

Allan Quatermain. 
iwa's Revenge. 
Mr. Meeson's will. 


Allan's Wife. 


Eric Brighteyes. 

Nada the Lily. 

Montezuma's Daughter 

The People of the Mist. 

Heart of the World. 


Black Heart and White Heart. 


Pearl Maiden. 

(In foiiaboratio. 


Joan Haste. 
Doctor Theme. 
Stella Fregeliui. 
The Way of the Spirit. 


The Brethren. 

Ayesha : The Return of Bh. 


Fair Margaret. 

The Ghost Kings. 

The Yellow God: An Idol of 

Morning Star. 
The Lady of Blossholme. 
Queen ShebVs Ring. 
Red Eve. 

The Maaatma and The Hare. 

ChiH of Storm. 
The Wanderer's Necklace. 
The Holy Flower. 
wth A* 

The World's Besu e. 

" There came the huge elephant, Jana. at a slow, shamhling 
trot " (see page 311) 




With Four Illustrations by 

London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 

First published 1916. 





2. ALLAN MAKES A BET ..... 13 

3. Miss HOLMES ....... 34 

4. HARUT AND MARUT ...... 47 

5. THE PLOT ....... 63 



8. THE START ....... 112 


10. CHARGE ! . . . . " . . . .143 

11. ALLAN is CAPTURED . . . . . .161 

12. THE FIRST CURSE ...... 176 

13. JANA ........ 192 

14. THE CHASE ....... 208 

15. THE DWELLER IN THE CAVE ~~^- . . . 223 

16. HANS STEALS THE KEYS ..... 242 


18. THE EMBASSY ....... 279 


20. ALLAN WEEPS ....... 316 

21. HOMEWARDS ....... 332 




SHAMBLING TROT " , . . Frontispiece 





Isis OF THE EGYPTIANS" . . . v . 264 




Now I, Allan Quatermain, come to the story of what 
was, perhaps, one of the strangest of all the adven- 
tures which have befallen me in the course of a life 
that so far can scarcely be called tame or humdrum. 

Amongst many other things it tells of the war 
against the Black Kendah people and the death of 
Jana, their elephant god. Often since then I have 
wondered if this creature was or was not anything 
more than a mere gigantic beast of the forest. It 
seems improbable, even impossible, but the reader of 
future days may judge of this matter for himself. 

Also he can form his own opinion as to the religion 
of the White Kendah and their pretensions to a certain 
degree of magical skill. Of this magic I will make 
only one remark : If it existed at all, it was by no 
means infallible. To take a single instance. Harut 
and Marut were convinced by divination that I, and I 
only, could kill Jana, which was why they invited me 
to Kendahland. Yet in the end it was Hans who 
killed him. Jana nearly killed me ! 

Now to my tale. 

In another history, called "The Holy Flower," I 
have told how I came to England with a young gentle- 
man of the name of Scroope, partly to see him safely 
home after a hunting accident, and partly to try to 
dispose of a unique orchid for a friend of mine called 

2 The Ivory Child 

Brother John by the white people, and Dogeetah by 
the natives, who was popularly supposed to be mad, 
but, in fact, was very sane indeed. So sane was he 
that he pursued what seemed to be an absolutely 
desperate quest for over twenty years, until, with some 
humble assistance on my part, he brought it to a 
curiously successful issue. But all this tale is told in 
"The Holy Flower," and I only allude to it here, that 
is at present, to explain how I came to be in England. 

While in this country I stayed for a few days with 
Scroope, or, rather, with his fiance'e and her people, 
at a fine house in Essex. (I called it Essex to avoid 
the place being identified, but really it was one of the 
neighbouring counties.) During my visit I was taken 
to see a much finer place, a splendid old castle with 
brick gateway towers, that had been wonderfully well 
restored and turned into a most luxurious modern 
dwelling-house. Let us call it "Ragnall," the seat of 
a baron of that name. 

I had heard a good deal about Lord Ragnall, who, 
according to all accounts, seemed a kind of Admirable 
Crichton. He was said to be wonderfully handsome, 
a great scholar he had taken a double first at college ; 
a great athlete he had been captain of the Oxford boat 
in the University race ; a very promising speaker who 
had already made his mark in the House of Lords; 
a sportsman who had shot tigers and other large game 
in India; a poet who had published a successful volume 
of verse under a pseudonym; a good soldier until he 
left the Service ; and lastly, a man of enormous wealth, 
owning, in addition to his estates, several coal mines 
and an entire town in the north of England. 

"Dear me ! " I said when the list was finished, "he 
seems to have been born with a whole case of gold 
spoons in his mouth. I hope one of them will not choke 
him," adding : " Perhaps he will be unlucky in love." 

Allan Gives a Shooting Lesson 3 

"That's just where he is most lucky of all," answered 
the young lady to whom I was talking it was Scroope's 
fiancee, Miss Manners "for he is engaged to a lady 
that, I am told, is the loveliest, sweetest, cleverest 
girl in all England, and they absolutely adore each 

"Dear me ! " I repeated. "I wonder what Fate has 
got up its sleeve for Lord Ragnall and his perfect lady- 

I was doomed to find out one day. 

So it came about that when, on the following morn- 
ing, I was asked if I would like to see the wonders 
of Ragnall Castle, I answered "Yes." Really, how- 
ever, I wanted to have a look at Lord Ragnall himself, 
if possible, for the account of his many perfections 
had impressed the imagination of a poor colonist like 
myself, who had never found an opportunity of setting 
his eyes upon a kind of human angel. Human devils 
I had met in plenty, but never a single angel at least, 
of the male sex. Also there was always the possibility 
that I might get a glimpse of the still more angelic lady 
to whom he was engaged, whose name, I understood, 
was the Hon. Miss Holmes. So I said that nothing 
would please me more than to see this castle. 

Thither we drove accordingly through the fine, 
frosty air, for the month was December. On reaching 
the castle Mr. Scroope was told that Lord Ragnall, 
whom he knew well, was out shooting somewhere in 
the park, but that, of course, he could show his friend 
over the place. So we went in, the three of us, for 
Miss Manners, to whom Scroope was to be married 
very shortly, had driven us over in her pony carriage. 
The porter at the gateway towers took us to the main 
door of the castle and handed us over to another man, 
whom he addressed as Mr. Savage, whispering to me 
that he was his lordship's personal attendant. 

4 The Ivory Child 

I remembered the name, because it seemed to me 
that I had never seen anyone who looked much less 
savage. In truth, his appearance was that of a duke 
in disguise, as I imagine dukes to be, for I never set 
eyes on one. His dress he wore a black morning cut- 
away coat was faultless. His manners were exquisite, 
polite to the verge of irony, but with a hint of haughty 
pride in the background. He was handsome also, with 
a fine nose and a hawk-like eye, while a touch of bald- 
ness added to the general effect. His age may have 
been anything between thirty-five and forty, and the 
way he deprived me of my hat and stick, to which I 
strove to cling, showed, I thought, resolution of char- 
acter. Probably, I reflected to myself, he considers 
me an unusual sort of person who might damage the 
pictures and other objects of art with the stick, and not 
seeing his way how to ask me to give it up without 
suggesting suspicion, has hit upon the expedient of 
taking my hat also. 

In after days Mr. Samuel Savage informed me that 
I was quite right in this surmise. He said he thought 
that, judging from my somewhat unconventional ap- 
pearance, I might be one of the dangerous class of 
whom he had been reading in the papers, namely, a 
"hanarchist." I write the word as he pronounced it, for 
here comes the curious thing. This man, so flawless, 
so well instructed in some respects, had a fault which 
gave everything away. His h's were uncertain. Three 
of them would come quite right, but the fourth, let 
us say, would be conspicuous either by its utter absence 
or by its unwanted appearance. He could speak, when 
describing the Ragnall pictures, in rotund and flowing 
periods that would scarcely have disgraced the pen of 
Gibbon. Then suddenly that "h" would appear or 
disappear, and illusion was over. It was like a sudden 
shock of cold water down the back. I never discovered 

Allan Gives a Shooting Lesson 5 

the origin of his family; it was a matter of which he 
did not speak, perhaps because he was vague about 
it himself; but if an earl of Norman blood had married 
a handsome Cockney kitchenmaid of native ability, I 
can quite imagine that Samuel Savage might have been 
a child of the union. For the rest he was a good man 
and a faithful one, for whom I have a high respect. 

On this occasion he conducted us round the castle, 
or, rather, its more public rooms, showing us many 
treasures and, I should think, at least two hundred 
pictures by eminent and departed artists, which gave 
him an opportunity of exhibiting a peculiar, if some- 
what erratic, knowledge of history. To tell the truth, 
I began to wish that it were a little less full in detail, 
since on a December day those large apartments felt 
uncommonly cold. Scroope and Miss Manners seemed 
to keep warm, perhaps with the inward fires of mutual 
admiration, but as I had no one to admire except Mr. 
Savage, a temperature of about 35 degrees produced 
its natural effect upon me. 

At length we took a short cut from the large to the 
little gallery through a warmed and comfortable room, 
which I understood was Lord Ragnall's study. Halting 
for a moment by one of the fires, I observed a picture 
on the wall, over which a curtain was drawn, and asked 
Mr. Savage what it might be. 

"That, sir," he replied with a kind of haughty re- 
serve, "is the portrait of her future ladyship, which his 
lordship keeps for his private heye." 

Miss Manners sniggered, and I said : 

"Oh, thank you. What an ill-omened kind of thing 
to do I " 

Then, observing through an open door the hall 
in which my hat had been taken from me, I lingered, 
and as the others vanished in the little gallery, slipped 
into it, recovered my belongings, and passed out to 

6 The Ivory Child 

the garden, purposing to walk there till I was warm 
again and Scroope reappeared. While I marched up 
and down a terrace, on which, I remember, several very 
cold-looking peacocks were seated, like conscientious 
birds that knew it was their duty to be ornamental, how- 
ever low the temperature, I heard some shots fired, 
apparently in a clump of ilex oaks which grew about five 
hundred yards away, and reflected to myself that they 
seemed to be those of a small rifle, not of a shot-gun. 

My curiosity being excited as to what was to me an 
almost professional matter, I walked towards the grove, 
making a circuit through a shrubbery. At length I 
found myself near to the edge of a glade, and per- 
ceived, standing behind the shelter of a magnificent 
ilex, two men. One of these was a young keeper, and 
the other, from his appearance, I felt sure must be Lord 
Ragnall himself. Certainly he was a splendid-looking 
man, very tall, very broad, very handsome, with a 
peaked beard, a kind and charming face, and large 
dark eyes. He wore a cloak upon his shoulders, which 
was thrown back from over a velvet coat, and, except 
for the light double-barrelled rifle in his hand, looked 
exactly like a picture by Van Dyck which Mr. Savage 
had just informed me was that of one of his lordship's 
ancestors of the time of Charles I. 

Standing back behind another oak, I observed that 
he was trying to shoot wood-pigeons as they descended 
to feed upon the acorns, for which the hard weather 
had made them greedy. From time to time these 
beautiful blue birds appeared and hovered a moment 
before they settled, whereon the sportsman fired and 
they flew away. Bang! Bang! went the double- 
barrelled rifle, and off fled the pigeon. 

" Damn ! " said the sportsman in a pleasant, laugh- 
ing voice; "that's the twelfth I have missed, Charles." 

"You hit his tail, my lord. I saw a feather come 

Allan Gives a Shooting Lesson 7 

out. But, my lord, as I told you, there ain't no man 
living what can kill pigeons on the wing with a bullet, 
even when they seem to sit still in the air." 

"I have heard of one, Charles. Mr. Scroope has a 
friend from Africa staying with him who, he swears, 
could knock over four out of six." 

"Then, my lord, Mr. Scroope has a friend what 
lies," replied Charles as he handed him the second rifle. 

This was too much for me. I stepped forward, 
raising my hat politely, and said : 

"Sir, forgive me for interrupting you, but you are 
not shooting at those wood-pigeons in the right way. 
Although they seem to hover just before they settle, 
they are dropping much faster than you think. Your 
keeper was mistaken when he said that you knocked 
a feather out of the tail of that last bird at which you 
fired two barrels. In both cases you shot at least a foot 
above it, and what fell was a leaf from the ilex tree." 

There was a moment's silence, which was broken 
by Charles, who ejaculated in a thick voice : 

"Well, of all the cheek!" 

Lord Ragnall, however, for it was he, looked first 
angry and then amused. 

"Sir," he said, "I thank you for your advice, which 
no- doubt is excellent, for it is certainly true that I have 
missed every pigeon which I tried to shoot with these 
confounded little rifles. But if you could demonstrate 
in practice what you so kindly set out in precept, the 
value of your counsel would be enhanced." 

Thus he spoke, mimicking, I have no doubt (for 
he had a sense of humour), the manner of my address, 
which nervousness had made somewhat pompous. 

" Give me the rifle," I answered, taking off my greatcoat. 

He handed it to me with a bow. 

"Mind what you are about," growled Charles. 
"That there thing is full cocked and 'air-triggered." 

8 The Ivory Child 

I withered, or, rather, tried to wither him with a 
glance, but this unbelieving keeper only stared back at 
me with insolence in his round and bird-like eyes. 
Never before had I felt quite so angry with a menial. 
Then a horrible doubt struck me. Supposing I should 
miss ! I knew very little of the manner of flight of 
English wood-pigeons, which are not difficult to miss 
with a bullet, and nothing at all of these particular 
rifles, though a glance at them showed me that they 
were exquisite weapons of their sort and by a great 
maker. If I muffed the thing now, how should I bear 
the scorn of Charles and the polite amusement of his 
noble master? Almost I prayed that no more pigeons 
would put in an appearance, and thus that the issue of 
my supposed skill might be left in doubt. 

But this was not to be. These birds came from far 
in ones or twos to search for their favourite food, and 
the fact that others had been scared away did not cause 
them to cease from coming. Presently I heard Charles 
mutter : 

"Now, then, look out, guv'nor. Here's your chance 
of teaching his lordship how to do it, though he does 
happen to be the best shot in these counties." 

While he spoke two pigeons appeared, one a little 
behind the other, coming down very straight. As they 
reached the opening in the ilex grove they hovered, 
preparing to alight, for of us they could see nothing, 
one at a distance of about fifty and the other of, say, 
seventy yards away. I took the nearest, got on to it, 
allowing for the drop and the angle, and touched the 
trigger of the rifle, which fell to my shoulder very 
sweetly. The bullet struck that pigeon on the crop, 
out of which fell a shower of acorns that it had been 
eating, as it sank to the ground stone dead. Number 
two pigeon, realising danger, began to mount upwards 
almost straight. I fired the second barrel, and by good 

Allan Gives a Shooting Lesson 9 

luck shot its head off. Then I snatched the other rifle, 
which Charles had been loading automatically, from 
his outstretched hand, for at that moment I saw two 
more pigeons coming. At the first I risked a difficult 
shot and hit it far back, knocking out its tail, but bring- 
ing it, still fluttering, to the ground. The other, too, 
I covered, but when I touched the trigger there was 
a click, no more. 

This was my opportunity of coming even with 
Charles, and I availed myself of it. 

"Young man," I said, while he gaped at me open- 
mouthed, "you should learn to be careful with rifles, 
which are dangerous weapons. If you give one to a 
shooter that is not loaded, it shows that you are capable 
of anything." 

Then I turned, and addressing Lord Ragnall, added : 

" I must apologise for that third shot of mine, which 
was infamous, for I committed a similar fault to that 
against which I warned you, sir, and did not fire far 
enough ahead. However, it may serve to show your 
attendant the difference between the tail of a pigeon 
and an oak leaf," and I pointed to one of the feathers 
of the poor bird, which was still drifting to the 

"Well, if this here snipe of a chap ain't the devil 
in boots ! " exclaimed Charles to himself. 

But his master cut him short with a look, then lifted 
his hat to me and said : 

"Sir, the practice much surpasses the precept, which 
is unusual. I congratulate you upon a skill that almost 

partakes of the marvellous, unless, indeed, chance " 

And he stopped. 

"It is natural that you should think so," I replied; 
"but if more pigeons come, and Mr. Charles will make 
sure that he loads the rifle, I hope to undeceive you." 

At this moment, however, a loud shout from 

io The Ivory Child 

Scroope, who was looking for me, reinforced by a 
shrill cry uttered by Miss Manners, banished every 
pigeon within half a mile, a fact of which I was not 
sorry, since who knows whether I should have hit all, 
or any, of the next three birds ? 

"I think my friends are calling me, so I will bid 
you good morning," I said awkwardly. 

"One moment, sir," he exclaimed. "Might I first 
ask you your name? Mine is Ragnall Lord Ragnall." 

"And mine is Allan Quatermain," I said. 

"Oh!" he answered, "that explains matters. 
Charles, this is Mr. Scroope's friend, the gentleman 
that you said exaggerated. I think you had better 

But Charles was gone, to pick up the pigeons, I 

At this moment Scroope and the young lady ap- 
peared, having heard our voices, and a general ex- 
planation ensued. 

"Mr. Quatermain has been giving me a lesson in 
shooting pigeons on the wing with a small-bore rifle," 
said Lord Ragnall, pointing to the dead birds that 
still lay upon the ground. 

" He is competent to do that," said Scroope. 

"Painfully competent," replied his lordship. "If 
you don't believe me, ask the under-keeper." 

"It is the only thing I can do," I explained modestly. 
"Rifle-shooting is my trade, and I have made a habit 
of practising at birds on the wing with ball. I have 
no doubt that with a shot-gun your lordship would 
leave me nowhere, for that is a game at which I have 
had little practice, except when shooting for the pot in 

"Yes," interrupted Scroope, "you wouldn't have 
any chance at that, Allan, against one of the finest 
shots in England." 

Allan Gives a Shooting Lesson n 

"I'm not so sure," said Lord Ragnall, laughing 
pleasantly. "I have an idea that Mr. Quatermain is full 
of surprises. However, with his leave, we'll see. If 
you have a day to spare, Mr. Quatermain, we are going 
to shoot through the home coverts to-morrow, which 
haven't been touched till now, and I hope you will 
join us." 

"It is most kind of you, but that is impossible," 
I answered with firmness. "I have no gun here." 

"Oh, never mind that, Mr. Quatermain. I have a 
pair of breech-loaders " these were new things at that 
date "which have been sent down to me to try. I am 
going to return them, because they are much too short 
in the stock for me. I think they would just suit you, 
and you are quite welcome to the use of them." 

Again I excused myself, guessing that the dis- 
comfited Charles would put all sorts of stories about 
concerning me, and not wishing to look foolish before 
a party of grand strangers, no doubt chosen for their 
skill at this particular form of sport. 

"Well, Allan," exclaimed Scroope, who always had 
a talent for saying the wrong thing, "you are quite 
right not to go into a competition with Lord Ragnall 
over high pheasants." 

I flushed, for there was some truth in his blundering 
remark, whereon Lord Ragnall said with ready tact : 

" I asked Mr. Quatermain to shoot, not to a shooting 
match, Scroope, and I hope he'll come." 

This left me no option, and with a sinking heart 
I had to accept. 

"Sorry I can't ask you too, Scroope," said his lord- 
ship, when details had been arranged, "but we can 
only manage seven guns at this shoot. But will you 
and Miss Manners come to dine and sleep to-morrow 
evening? I should like to introduce your future wife 
to my future wife," he added, colouring a little. 

12 The Ivory Child 

Miss Manners, being devoured with curiosity as to 
the wonderful Miss Holmes, of whom she had heard 
so much but never actually seen, accepted at once, 
before her lover could get out a word, whereon Scroope 
volunteered to bring me over in the morning and load 
for me. Being possessed by a terror that I should be 
handed over to the care of the unsympathetic Charles, 
I replied that I should be very grateful, and so the 
thing was settled. 

On our way home we passed through a country 
town, of which I forget the name, and the sight of a 
gunsmith's shop there reminded me that I had no 
cartridges. So I stopped to order some, as, fortunately, 
Lord Ragnall had mentioned that the guns he was 
going to lend me were twelve-bores. The tradesman 
asked me how many cartridges I wanted, and when 
I replied "a hundred," stared at me and said : 

"If, as I understood, sir, you are going to the big 
winter shoot at Ragnall to-morrow, you had better 
make it three hundred and fifty at least. I shall be 
there to watch, like lots of others, and I expect to see 
nearly two hundred fired by each gun at the last Lake 

"Very well," I answered, fearing to show more 
ignorance by further discussion. "I will call for the 
cartridges on my way to-morrow morning. Please load 
them with three drachms of powder." 

"Yes, sir, and an ounce and an eighth of No. 5 
shot, sir? That's what all the gentlemen use." 

"No," I answered, "No. 3 ; please be sure as to that. 
Good evening." 

The gunsmith stared at me, and as I left the shop 
I heard him remark to his assistant : 

"That African gent must think he's going out to 
shoot ostriches with buck shot. I expect he ain't no 
good, whatever they may say about him." 



ON the following morning Scroope and I arrived at 
Castle Ragnall at or about a quarter to ten. On our 
way we stopped to pick up my three hundred and fifty 
cartridges. I had to pay something over three solid 
sovereigns for them, as in those days such things were 
dear, which showed me that I was not going to get my 
lesson in English pheasant shooting for nothing. The 
gunsmith, however, to whom Scroope gave a lift in 
his cart to the castle, impressed upon me that they were 
dirt cheap, since he and his assistant had sat up most 
of the night loading them with my special No. 3 shot. 

As I climbed out of the vehicle a splendid-looking 
and portly person, arrayed in a velvet coat and a scarlet 
waistcoat, approached with the air of an Emperor, 
followed by an individual in whom I recognised 
Charles, carrying a gun under each arm. 

"That's the head-keeper," whispered Scroope; 
"mind you treat him respectfully." 

Much alarmed, I took off my hat and waited. 

" Do I speak to Mr. Allan Quatermain ? " said his 
majesty in a deep and rumbling voice, surveying me 
the while with a cold and disapproving eye. 

I intimated that he did. 

"Then, sir," he went on, pausing a little at the "sir," 
as though he suspected me of being no more than an 
African colleague of his own, "I have been ordered 
by his lordship to bring you these guns, and I hope, 
sir, that you will be careful of them, as they are here 


14 The Ivory Child 

on sale or return. Charles, explain the working of 
them there guns to this foreign gentleman, and in doing 
so keep the muzzles up or down. They ain't loaded, 
it's true, but the example is always useful." 

"Thank you, Mr. Keeper," I replied, growing some- 
what nettled, "but I think that I am already acquainted 
with most that there is to learn about guns." 

"I am glad to hear it, sir," said his majesty with 
evident disbelief. "Charles, I understand that Squire 
Scroope is going to load for the gentleman, which I 
hope he knows how to do with safety. His lordship's 
orders are that you accompany them and carry the 
cartridges. And, Charles, you will please keep count 
of the number fired and what is killed dead, not reckon- 
ing runners. I'm sick of them stories of runners." 

These directions were given in a portentous stage 
aside which we were not supposed to hear. They 
caused Scroope to snigger and Charles to grin, but 
in me they raised a feeling of indignation. 

I took one of the guns and looked at it. It was a 
costly and beautifully made weapon of the period, with 
an under-lever action. 

"There's nothing wrong with the gun, sir," rumbled 
Red Waistcoat. "If you hold it straight it will do the 
rest. But keep the muzzle up, sir, keep it up, for I 
know what the bore is without studying the same with 
my eye. Also perhaps you won't take it amiss if I 
tell you that here at Ragnall we hates a low pheasant. 
I mentions it because the last gentleman who came 
from foreign parts he was French, he was shot 
nothing all day but one hen bird just on the top of 
the brush, two beaters, his lordship's hat, and a 

At this point Scroope broke into a roar of idiotic 
laughter. Charles, from whom Fortune decreed that I 
was not to escape, after all, turned his back and doubled 

Allan Makes a Bet 15 

up as though seized with sudden pain in the stomach, 
and I grew absolutely furious. 

"Confound it, Mr. Keeper," I exclaimed, "what do 
you mean by lecturing me? Attend to your business, 
and I'll attend to mine." 

At this moment who should appear from behind the 
angle of some building we were talking in the stable- 
yard, near the gun-room door but Lord Ragnall him- 
self. I could see that he had overheard the conversation, 
for he looked angry. 

"Jenkins," he said, addressing the keeper, "do what 
Mr. Quatermain has said and attend to your own busi- 
ness. Perhaps you are not aware that he has shot more 
lions, elephants and other big game than you have cats. 
But, however that may be, it is not your place to try 
to instruct him or any of my guests. Now go and 
see to the beaters." 

" Beg pardon, my lord," ejaculated Jenkins, his face, 
that was as florid as his waistcoat, turning quite pale; 
"no offence meant, my lord, but elephants and lions 
don't fly, my lord, and those accustomed to such ground 
varmin are apt to shoot low, my lord. Beaters all 
ready at the Hunt Copse, my lord." 

Thus speaking he backed himself out of sight. Lord 
Ragnall watched him go, then said with a laugh : 

"I apologise to you, Mr. Quatermain. That silly 
old fool was part of my inheritance, so to speak ; and 
the joke of it is that he is himself the worst and most 
dangerous shot I ever saw. However, on the other 
hand, he is the best rearer of pheasants in the county, 
so I put up with him. Come in, now, won't you ? 
Charles will look after your guns and cartridges." 

So Scroope and I were taken through a side entrance 
into the big hall and there introduced to the other 
members of the shooting party, most of whom were 
staying at the castle. They were famous shots. Indeed, 

16 The Ivory^Child 

I had read of the prowess of some of them in The Field, 
a paper that I always took in Africa, although often 
enough, when I was on my distant expeditions, I did 
not see a copy of it for a year at a time. 

To my astonishment I found that I knew one of 
these gentlemen. We had not, it is true, met for a 
dozen years; but I seldom forget a face, and I was 
sure that I could not be mistaken in this instance. That 
mean appearance, those small, shifty grey eyes, that 
red, pointed nose could belong to nobody except Van 
Koop, so famous in his day in South Africa in con- 
nection with certain gigantic and most successful frauds 
that the law seemed quite unable to touch, of which 
frauds I had been one of the many victims to the extent 
of ^250, a large sum for me. 

The last time we met there had been a stormy scene 
between us, which ended in my declaring in my wrath 
that if I came across him on the veld I should shoot 
him at sight. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why 
Mr. van Koop vanished from South Africa, for I may 
add that he was a cur of the first water. I believe 
that he had only just entered the room, having driven 
over from wherever he lived at some distance from 
Ragnall. At any rate, he knew nothing of my presence 
at this shoot. Had he known I am quite sure that he 
would have been absent. He turned, and seeing me, 
ejaculated: "Allan Quatermain, by heaven!" beneath 
his breath, but in such a tone of astonishment that it 
attracted the attention of Lord Ragnall, who was 
standing near. 

"Yes, Mr. van Koop," I answered in a cheerful 
voice, "Allan Quatermain, no other, and I hope you 
are as glad to see me as I am to see you." 

"I think there is some mistake," said Lord Ragnall, 
staring at us. "This is Sir Junius Fortescue, who used 
to be Mr. Fortescue." 

Allan Makes a Bet 17 

"Indeed," I replied. "I don't know that I ever 
remember his being called by that particular name, 
but I do know that we are old friends." 

Lord Ragnall moved away as though he did not 
wish to continue the conversation, which no one else 
had overheard, and Van Koop sidled up to me. 

"Mr. Quatermain," he said in a low voice, "circum- 
stances have changed with me since last we met." 

"So I gather," I replied; "but mine have remained 
much the same, and if it is convenient to you to repay 
me that ^250 you owe me, with interest, I shall be 
much obliged. If not, I think I have a good story to 
tell about you." 

"Oh, Mr. Quatermain," he answered with a sort of 
smile which made me feel inclined to kick him, 
"you know I dispute that debt." 

"Do you?" I exclaimed. "Well, perhaps you will 
dispute the story also. But the question is, will you 
be believed when I give the proofs ? " 

"Ever heard of the Statute of Limitations, Mr. 
Quatermain ? " he asked with a sneer. 

"Not where character is concerned," I replied 
stoutly. "Now, what are you going to do?" 

He reflected a moment, and answered : 

"Look here, Mr. Quatermain, you were always a bit 
of a sportsman, and I'll make you an offer. If I kill 
more birds than you do to-day, you shall promise to 
hold your tongue about my affairs in South Africa; 
and if you kill more than I do, you shall still hold 
your tongue, but I will pay you that ^250 and interest 
for six years." 

I also reflected for a moment, knowing that the man 
had something up his sleeve. Of course, I could refuse 
and make a scandal. But that was not in my line, and 
would not bring me nearer my ^250, which, if I chanced 
to win, might find its way back into my pocket, 

i8 The Ivory Child 

"All right, done!" I said. 

"What is your bet, Sir Junius?" asked Lord Rag- 
nail, who was approaching again. 

"It is rather a long story," he answered, "but, to 
put it shortly, years ago, when I was travelling in 
Africa, Mr. Quatermain and I had a dispute as to a 
sum of 5 which he thought I owed him, and to save 
argument about a trifle we have agreed that I should 
shoot against him for it to-day." 

"Indeed," said Lord Ragnall rather seriously, for 
I could see that he did not believe Van Koop's state- 
ment as to the amount of the bet; perhaps he had 
heard more than we thought. "To be frank, Sir Junius, 
I don't much care for betting for that's what it comes 
to here. Also I think Mr. Quatermain said yester- 
day that he had never shot pheasants in England, so 
the match seems scarcely fair. However, you gentle- 
men know your own business best. Only I must tell 
you both that if money is concerned, I shall have to 
set someone whose decision will be final to count your 
birds and report the number to me." 

"Agreed," said Van Koop, or, rather, Sir Junius; 
but I answered nothing, for, to tell the truth, already 
I felt ashamed of the whole affair. 

As it happened, Lord Ragnall and I walked together 
ahead of the others to the first covert, which was half 
a mile or more away. 

" You have met Sir Junius before ? " he said to me 

"I have met Mr. van Koop before," I answered, 
"about twelve years since, shortly after which he 
vanished from South Africa, where he was a well- 
known and very successful speculator." 

"To reappear here. Ten years ago he bought a 
large property in this neighbourhood. Three years ago 
he became a baronet." 

Allan Makes a Bet 19 

" How did a man like Van Koop become a baronet ? " 
I inquired. 

"By purchase, I believe." 

"By purchase! Are honours in England pur- 

"You are delightfully innocent, Mr. Quatermain, 
as a hunter from Africa should be," said Lord Ragnall, 
laughing. "Your friend " 

"Excuse me, Lord Ragnall, I am a very humble 
person, not so elevated, indeed, as that gamekeeper of 
yours ; therefore I should not venture to call Sir Junius, 
late Mr. van Koop, my friend, at least in earnest." 

He laughed again. 

"Well, the individual with whom you make bets 
subscribed largely to the funds of his party. I am 
telling you what I know to be true, though the amount 
I do not know. It has been variously stated to be from 
fifteen to fifty thousand pounds, and, perhaps by coinci- 
dence, subsequently was somehow created a baronet." 

I stared at him. 

"That's all the story," he went on. "I don't like 
the man myself, but he is a wonderful pheasant shot, 
which passes him everywhere. Shooting has be- 
come a kind of fetish in these parts, Mr. Quatermain. 
For instance, it is a tradition on this estate that we 
must kill more pheasants than on any other in the 
county, and therefore I have to ask the best guns, 
who are not always the best fellows. It annoys me, 
but it seems that I must do what was done before me." 

"Under those circumstances I should be inclined 
to give up the thing altogether, Lord Ragnall. Sport 
as sport is good, but when it becomes a business it 
grows hateful. I know, who have had to follow it as 
a trade for many years." 

"That's an idea," he replied reflectively. "Mean- 
while, I do hope that you will win back your ^5 

20 The Ivory Child 

from Sir Junius. He is so vain that I would gladly 
give >5O to see you do so." 

"There is little chance of that," I said, "for, as I 
told you, I have never shot pheasants before. Still, 
I'll try, as you wish it." 

"That's right. And look here, Mr. Quatermain, 
shoot well forward of them. You see, I am venturing 
to advise you now, as you advised me yesterday. Shot 
does not travel so fast as ball, and the pheasant is a 
bird that is generally going much quicker than you 
think. Now, here we are. Charles will show you your 
stand. Good luck to you." 

Ten minutes later the game began outside of a long 
covert, all the seven guns being posted within sight of 
each other. So occupied was I in watching the pre- 
liminaries, which were quite new to me, that I allowed 
first a hare and then a hen pheasant to depart without 
firing at them, which hen pheasant, by the way, curved 
round and was beautifully killed by Van Koop, who 
stood two guns off upon my right. 

"Look here, Allan," said Scroope, "if you are going 
to beat your African friend you had better wake up, 
for you won't do it by admiring the scenery or that 
squirrel on a tree." 

So I woke up. Just at that moment there was a cry 
of "cock forward." I thought it meant a cock pheasant, 
and was astonished when I saw a beautiful brown bird 
with a long beak flitting towards me through the tops 
of the oak trees. 

"Am I to shoot at that? " I asked. 

"Of course. It is a woodcock," answered Scroope. 

By this time the brown bird was rocking past me 
within ten yards. I fired and killed it, for where it had 
been appeared nothing but a cloud of feathers. It was 
a quick and clever shot, or so I thought. But when 
Charles stepped out and picked from the ground only 

Allan Makes a Bet 21 

a beak and a head, a titter of laughter went down the 
whole line of guns and loaders. 

"I say, old chap," said Scroope, "if you will use 
No. 3 shot, you had better let your birds get a little 
farther off you." 

The incident upset me so much that immediately 
afterwards I missed three easy pheasants in succession, 
while Van Koop added two to his bag. 

Scroope shook his head and Charles groaned 
audibly. Now that I was not in competition with his 
master he had become suddenly anxious that I should 
win, for in some mysterious way the news of that bet 
had spread, and my adversary was not popular amongst 
the keeper class. 

"Here you come again," said Scroope, pointing to 
an advancing pheasant. 

It was an extraordinarily high pheasant, flushed, 
I think, outside the covert by a stop, so high that, 
as it travelled down the line, although three guns fired 
at it, including Van Koop, none of them seemed to 
touch it. Then I fired, and remembering Lord Rag- 
nail's advice, far in front. Its flight changed. Still it 
travelled through the air, but with the momentum of 
a stone to fall fifty yards to my right, dead. 

"That's better!" said Scroope, while Charles 
grinned all over his round face, muttering : 

"Wiped his eye that time." 

This shot seemed to give me confidence, and I im- 
proved considerably, though, oddly enough, I found 
that it was the high and difficult pheasants which I 
killed and the easy ones that I was apt to muff. But 
Van Koop, who was certainly a finished artist, killed 

At the next stand Lord Ragnall, who had been 
observing my somewhat indifferent performance, asked 
me to stand back with him behind the other guns. 

22 The Ivory Child 

"I see the tall ones are your line, Mr. Quatermain," 
he said, "and you will get some here." 

On this occasion we were placed in a dip between 
two long coverts which lay about three hundred yards 
apart. That which was being beaten proved full of 
pheasants, and the shooting of those picked guns was 
really a thing to see. I did quite well here, nearly, 
but not altogether, as well as Lord Ragnall himself, 
though that is saying a great deal, for he was a lovely 

"Bravo ! " he said at the end of the beat. "I believe 
you have got a chance of winning your ,5, after all." 

When, however, at luncheon, more than an hour 
later, I found that I was thirty pheasants behind my 
adversary, I shook my head, and so did everybody 
else. On the whole, that luncheon, of which we par- 
took in a keeper's house, was a very pleasant meal, 
though Van Koop talked so continuously and in such 
a boastful strain that I saw it irritated our host and 
some of the other gentlemen, who were very pleasant 
people. At last he began to patronise me, asking me 
how I had been getting on with my "elephant-potting" 
of late years. 

I replied, "Fairly well." 

"Then you should tell our friends some of your 
famous stories, which I promise I won't contradict," 
he said, adding: "You see, they are different to us, 
and have no experience of big-game shooting." 

"I did not know that you had any, either, Sir 
Junius," I answered, nettled. "Indeed, I thought I 
remembered your telling me in Africa that the only big 
game you had ever shot was an ox sick with the red- 
water. Anyway, shooting is a business with me, not an 
amusement, as it is to you, and I do not talk shop." 

At this he collapsed amid some laughter, after which 
Scroope, the most loyal of friends, began to repeat 

Allan Makes a Bet 23 

exploits of mine till my ears tingled, and I rose and 
went outside to look at the weather. 

It had changed very much during luncheon. The 
fair promise of the morning had departed, the sky was 
overcast, and a wind, blowing in strong gusts, was 
rising rapidly, driving before it occasional scurries of 

"My word," said Lord Ragnall, who had joined 
me, "the Lake covert that's our great stand here, you 
know will take some shooting this afternoon. We 
ought to kill seven hundred pheasants in it with this 
team, but I doubt if we shall get five. Now, Mr. 
Quatermain, I am going to stand Sir Junius Fortescue 
and you back in the covert, where you will have the 
best of it, as a lot of the pheasants will never face the 
lake against this wind. What is more, I am coming 
with you, if I may, as six guns are enough for this 
beat, and I don't mean to shoot any more myself 

"I fear that you will be disappointed," I said 

"Oh, no, I shan't," he answered. "I tell you 
frankly that if only you could have a season's practice, 
in my opinion you would make the best pheasant shot 
of the lot of us. At present you don't quite understand 
the ways of the birds, that's all; also those guns are 
strange to you. Have a glass of cherry brandy; it 
will steady your nerve." 

I drank the cherry brandy, and presently off we 
went. The covert we were going to shoot, into which 
we had been driving pheasants all the morning, must 
have been nearly a mile long. At the top end it was 
broad, narrowing at the bottom to a width of about 
two hundred yards. Here it ran into a horse-shoe 
shaped piece of water that was about fifty yards in 
breadth. Four of the guns were placed round the bow 

24 The Ivory Child 

of this water, but on its farther side, in such a position 
that the pheasants should stream over them to yet 
another covert behind at the top of a slope. Van Koop 
and I, however, were ordered to take our places, he 
to the right and I to the left, about seventy yards up 
the tongue in little glades in the woodland, having 
the lake to our right and our left respectively. I noticed 
with dismay that we were so set that the guns below 
us on its farther side could note all that we did or did 
not do ; also that a little band of watchers, among whom 
I recognised my friend the gunsmith, were gathered 
in a place where, without interfering with us, they could 
see the sport. On our way to the boat, however, which 
was to row us across the water, an incident happened 
that put me in very good spirits and earned some 

I was walking with Lord Ragnall, Scroope and 
Charles, about sixty yards clear of a belt of tall trees, 
when from far away on the other side of the trees came 
a cry of " Partridges over I " in the hoarse voice of the 
red-waistcoated Jenkins, who was engaged in super- 
intending the driving in of some low scrub before he 
joined his army at the top of the covert. 

"Look out, Mr. Quatermain, they are coming this 
way," said Lord Ragnall, while Charles thrust a loaded 
gun into my hand. 

Another moment and they appeared over the tree- 
tops, a big covey of them in a long, straggling line, 
travelling at I know not what speed, for a fierce gust 
from the rising gale had caught them. I fired at the 
first bird, which fell at my feet. I fired again, and 
another fell behind me. I snatched the second gun 
and killed a third as it passed over me high up. Then, 
wheeling round, I covered the last retreating bird, and 
lo ! it too fell, a very long shot indeed. 

" By George ! " said Scroope, " I never saw that 

Allan Makes a Bet 25 

done before," while Lord Ragnall stared and Charles 

But now I will tell the truth and expose all my 
meanness. The second bird was not the one I aimed 
at. I was behind it and caught that which followed. 
And in my vanity I did not own up, at least not till 
that evening. 

The four dead partridges there was not a runner 
among them having been collected amidst many con- 
gratulations, we went on and were punted across the 
lake to the covert. As we entered the boat I observed 
that, in addition to the great bags, Charles was carry- 
ing a box of cartridges under his arm, and asked him 
where he got it from. 

He replied, from Mr. Popham that was the gun- 
smith's name who had brought it with him in case 
I should not have enough. I made no remark, but as 
I knew I had quite half of my cartridges left out of the 
three hundred and fifty that I had bought, I wondered 
to myself what kind of a shoot this was going to be. 

Well, we took up our stands, and while we were 
doing so, suddenly the wind increased to a tearing 
gale, which seemed to me to blow from all points of the 
compass in turn. Rooks flying homewards, and 
pigeons disturbed by the beaters were swept over us 
like drifting leaves; wild duck, of which I got one, 
went by like arrows; the great bare oaks tossed their 
boughs and groaned; while not far off a fir tree was 
blown down, falling with a splash into the water. 

"It's a wild afternoon," said Lord Ragnall, and 
as he spoke Van Koop came from his stand, looking 
rather scared, and suggested that the shoot should be 
given up. 

Lord Ragnall asked me what I wished to do. I 
replied that I would rather go on, but that I was in his 

26 The Ivory Child 

"I think we are fairly safe in these open places, 
Sir Junius," he said; "and as the pheasants have been 
so much disturbed already, it does not much matter 
if they are blown about a bit. But if you are of another 
opinion, perhaps you had better get out of it and stand 
with the others over the lake. I'll send for my guns 
and take your place." 

On hearing this Van Koop changed his mind and 
said that he would go on. 

So the beat began. At first the wind blew from 
behind us, and pheasants in increasing numbers passed 
over our heads, most of them rather low, to the guns 
on the farther side of the water, who, skilled though 
they were, did not make very good work with them. 
We had been instructed not to fire at birds going for- 
ward, so I let these be. Van Koop, however, did not 
interpret the order in the same spirit, for he loosed at 
several, killing one or two and missing others. 

"That fellow is no sportsman," I heard Lord Rag- 
nail remark. "I suppose it is the bet." 

Then he sent Charles to ask him to desist. 

Shortly after this the gale worked round to the north 
and settled there, blowing with ever-increasing violence. 
The pheasants, however, still flew forward in the shelter 
of the trees, for they were making for the covert on 
the hill, where they had been bred. But when they 
got into the open and felt the full force of the wind, 
quite four out of six of them turned and came back 
at a most fearful pace, many so high as to be almost 
out of shot. 

For the next three-quarters of an hour or more 
as I think I have explained, the beat was a very 
long one I had such covert shooting as I suppose I 
shall never see again. High above those shrieking 
trees, or over the lake to my left, flashed the wind- 
driven pheasants in an endless procession. Oddly 

Allan Makes a Bet 27 

enough, I found that this wild work suited me, for 
as time went on and the pheasants grew more and 
more impossible, I shot better and better. One after 
another down they came far behind me with a crash in 
the brushwood or a splash in the lake, till the guns grew 
almost too hot to hold. There were so many of them 
that I discovered I could pick my shots; also that 
nine out of ten were caught by the wind and curved 
at a certain angle, and that the time to fire was just 
before they took this curve. The excitement was great 
and the sport splendid, as anyone will testify who has 
shot December pheasants breaking back over covert 
and in a tearing gale. Van Koop also was doing very 
well, but the guns in front got comparatively little 
shooting. They were forced to stand there, poor 
fellows, and watch our performance from afar. 

As the thing drew towards an end the birds came 
thicker and thicker, and I shot, as I have said, better 
and better. This may be judged from the fact that, 
notwithstanding their height and tremendous pace, I 
killed my last thirty pheasants with thirty-five car- 
tridges. The final bird of all, a splendid cock, appeared 
by himself out of nothingness when we thought that 
all was done. I think it must have been flushed from 
the covert on the hill, or been turned back just as it 
reached it by the resistless strength of the storm. Over 
it came, so high above us that it looked quite small 
in the dark snow-scud. 

"Too far no use ! " said Lord Ragnall, as I lifted 
the gun. 

Still, I fired, holding I know not how much in 
front, and lo ! that pheasant died in mid air, falling 
with a mighty splash near the bank of the lake, but 
at a great distance behind us. The shot was so re- 
markable that everyone who saw it, including most 
of the beaters, who had passed us by now, uttered a 

28 The Ivory Child 

cheer, and the red-waistcoated old Jenkins, who had 
stopped by us, remarked : "Well, bust me if that bain't 
a master one ! " 

Scroope made me angry by slapping me so hard 
upon the back that it hurt, and nearly caused me to 
let off the other barrel of the gun. Charles seemed 
to become one great grin, and Lord Ragnall, with a 
brief congratulatory, "Never enjoyed a shoot so much 
in my life," called to the men who were posted behind 
us to pick up all the dead pheasants, being careful to 
keep mine apart from those of Sir Junius Fortescue. 

"You should have a hundred and forty-three at this 
stand," he said, "allowing for every possible runner. 
Charles and I make the same total." 

I remarked that I did not think there were many 
runners, as the No. 3 shot had served me very well, 
and getting into the boat was rowed to the other side, 
where I received more congratulations. Then, as all 
further shooting was out of the question because of 
the weather, we walked back to the castle to tea. 

As I emptied my cup Lord Ragnall, who had left 
the room, returned and asked us to come to see the 
game. So we went, to find it laid out in endless lines 
upon the snow-powdered grass in the quadrangle of 
the castle, arranged in one main and two separate 

"Those are yours and Sir Junius's," said Scroope. 
"I wonder which of you has won. I'll put a sovereign 
on you, old fellow." 

"Then you're a donkey for your pains," I answered, 
feeling vexed, for at that moment I had forgotten all 
about the bet. 

I do not remember how many pheasants were killed 
altogether, but the total was much smaller than had 
been hoped for, because of the gale. 

"Jenkins," said Lord Ragnall presently to Red 

Allan Makes a Bet 29 

Waistcoat, "how many have you to the credit of Sir 
Junius Fortescue ? " 

"Two hundred and seventy-seven, my lord, twelve 
hares, two woodcocks, and three pigeons." 

"And how many to that of Mr. Quatermain ? " 
adding: "I must remind you both, gentlemen, that the 
birds have been picked as carefully as possible and 
kept unmixed, and therefore that the figures given by 
Jenkins must be considered as final." 

"Quite so," I answered, but Van Koop said nothing. 
Then, while we all waited anxiously, came the amazing 
answer : 

"Two hundred and seventy-seven pheasants, my 
lord, same number as those of Sir Junius, Bart., fifteen 
hares, three pigeons, four partridges, one duck, and 
a beak I mean a woodcock." 

"Then it seems you have won your ,5, Mr. Quater- 
main, upon which I congratulate you," said Lord 

"Stop a minute," broke in Van Koop. "The bet 
was as to pheasants; the other things don't count." 

"I think the term used was 'birds,'" I remarked. 
"But, to be frank, when I made it I was thinking of 
pheasants, as no doubt Sir Junius was also. Therefore, 
if the counting is correct, there is a dead heat and the 
wager falls through." 

"I am sure we all appreciate the view you take of 
the matter," said Lord Ragnall, "for it might be argued 
another way. In these circumstances Sir Junius keeps 
his 5 in his pocket. It is unlucky for you, Quater- 
main," he added, dropping the "mister," "that the last 
high pheasant you shot can't be found. It fell into the 
lake, you remember, and, I suppose, swam ashore and 

"Yes," I replied, "especially as I could have sworn 
that it was quite dead." 

30 The Ivory Child 

"So could I, Quatermain; but the fact remains that 
it isn't there." 

" If we had all the pheasants that we think fall dead 
our bags would be much bigger than they are," re- 
marked Van Koop, with a look of great relief upon 
his face, adding in his horrid, patronising way : "Still, 
you shot uncommonly well, Quatermain. I'd no idea 
you would run me so close." 

I felt inclined to answer, but didn't. Only Lord 
Ragnall said : 

"Mr. Quatermain shot more than well. His per- 
formance in the Lake covert was the most brilliant that 
I have ever seen. When you went in there together, 
Sir Junius, you were thirty ahead of him, and you fired 
seventeen more cartridges at the stand." 

Then, just as we turned to go, something happened. 
The round-eyed Charles ran puffing into the quad- 
rangle, followed by another man with a dog, who had 
been specially set to pick my birds, and carrying in his 
hand a much-bedraggled cock pheasant without a tail. 

"I've got him, my lord," he gasped, for he had run 
very fast; "the little gent's I mean that which he 
killed in the clouds with the last shot he fired. It had 
gone right down into the mud and stuck there. Tom 
and me fished him up with a pole." 

Lord Ragnall took the bird and looked at it. It 
was almost cold, but evidently freshly killed, for the 
limbs were quite flexible. 

"That turns the scale in favour of Mr. Quatermain," 
he said; "so, Sir Junius, you had better pay your 
money and congratulate him, as I do." 

"I protest," exclaimed Van Koop, looking very 
angry and meaner than usual. "How am I to know 
that this was Mr. Quatermain's pheasant? The sum 
involved is more than ^5, and I feel it my duty to 

Allan Makes a Bet 31 

"Because my men say so, Sir Junius; moreover, 
seeing the height from which the bird fell, their story 
is obviously true." Then he examined the pheasant 
further, pointing out that it appeared to have only one 
wound a shot through the throat almost at the root 
of the beak, of which shot there was no mark of exit. 
"What sized shot were you using, Sir Junius?" he 

"No. 4 at that last stand." 

"And you were using No. 3, Mr. Quatermain. Now, 
was any other gun using No. 3 ? " 

All shook their heads. 

"Jenkins, open that bird's head. I think the shot 
that killed it will be found in the brain." 

Jenkins obeyed, using a penknife cleverly enough. 
Pressed against the bone of the skull he found the 

"No. 3 it is, sure enough, my lord," he said. 

"You will agree that settles the matter, Sir Junius," 
said Lord Ragnall. "And now, as a bet has been 
made here it had better be paid." 

"I have not enough money on me," said Van Koop 

"I think your banker is mine," said Lord Rag- 
nall quietly, "so you can write a cheque in the house. 
Come in, all of you; it is cold in this wind." 

So we went into the smoking-room, and Lord Rag- 
nail, who, I could see, was annoyed, instantly fetched 
a blank cheque from his study and handed it to Van 
Koop in rather a pointed manner. 

He took it, and turning to me, said : 

"I remember the capital sum, but how much is the 
interest? Sorry to trouble you, but I am not very 
good at figures." 

"Then you must have changed a good deal during 
the last twelve years, Sir Junius," I could not help 

32 The Ivory Child 

saying. "Still, never mind the interest. I shall be 
quite satisfied with the principal." 

So he filled up the cheque for ^250 and threw it 
down on the table before me, saying something about 
its being a bother to mix up business with pleasure. 

I took the draft, saw that it was correct though 
rather illegible, and proceeded to dry it by waving it 
in the air. As I did so it came into my mind that I 
would not touch the money of this successful scamp, 
won back from him in such a way. 

Yielding to a perhaps foolish impulse, I said : 

"Lord Ragnall, this cheque is for a debt which 
years ago I wrote off as lost. At luncheon to-day you 
were talking of a Cottage Hospital for which you are 
trying to get up an endowment fund in this neighbour- 
hood, and in answer to a question from you Sir Junius 
Fortescue said that he had not as yet made any sub- 
scription to its funds. Will you allow me to hand 
you Sir Junius's subscription to be entered in his 
name, if you please ? " And I passed him the cheque, 
which was drawn to myself or bearer. 

He looked at the amount, and seeing that it was 
not $, but ^250, flushed, then asked : 

"What do you say to this act of generosity on the 
part of Mr. Quatermain, Sir Junius?" 

There was no answer, because Sir Junius had gone. 
I never saw him again, for years ago the poor man 
died quite disgraced. His passion for semi-fraudulent 
speculations reasserted itself, and he became a bank- 
rupt in conditions which caused him to leave the country 
for America, where he was killed in a railway accident 
while travelling as an immigrant. I have heard, how- 
ever, that he was not asked to shoot at Ragnall any 

The cheque was passed to the credit of the Cottage 
Hospital, but not, as I had requested, as a subscription 

Allan Makes a Bet 33 

from Sir Junius Fortescue. A couple of years later, 
indeed, I learned that this sum of money was used to 
build a little room in that institution to accommodate 
sick children, which room was named the Allan 
Quatermain ward. 

Now, I have told all this story of that December 
shoot because it was the beginning of my long and 
close friendship with Ragnall. 

When he found that Van Koop had gone away 
without saying good-bye, Lord Ragnall made no re- 
mark. Only he took my hand and shook it. 

I have only to add that, although, except for the 
element of competition which entered into it, I enjoyed 
this day's shooting very much indeed,* when I came 
to count up its cost I felt glad that I had not been 
asked to any more such entertainments. Here it is, 
taken from an old note-book : 

Cartridges, including those not used 

and given to Charles 4 o o 

Game Licence ... ... ... ... 300 

Tip to Red Waistcoat (keeper) 2 o o 

Tip to Charles ... ... ... ... 10 o 

Tip to man who helped Charles to find 

pheasant ... ... ... ... ... 5 o 

Tip to man who collected pheasants 

behind me 10 o 

Total 10 5 o 

Truly pheasant shooting in England is, or was, a 
sport for the rich ! 



Two and a half hours passed by, most of which time 
I spent lying down to rest and get rid of a headache 
caused by the continual, rapid firing and the roar of 
the gale, or both; also in rubbing my shoulder with 
ointment, for it was sore from the recoil of the guns. 
Then Scroope appeared, as, being unable to find my 
way about the long passages of that great old castle, 
I had asked him to do, and we descended together to 
the large drawing-room. 

It was a splendid apartment, only used upon state 
occasions, lighted, I should think, with at least two 
or three hundred wax candles, which threw a soft glow 
over the panelled and pictured walls, the priceless 
antique furniture, and the bejewelled ladies who were 
gathered there. To my mind there never was and 
never will be any artificial light to equal that of wax 
candles in sufficient quantity. The company was large ; 
I think thirty sat down to the dinner that night, which 
was given to introduce Lord RagnalPs future wife to 
the neighbourhood whereof she was destined to be the 

Miss Manners, who was looking very happy and 
charming in her jewels and fine clothes, joined us at 
once, and informed Scroope that "she" was just 
coming; the maid in the cloak-room had told her so. 

"Is she?" replied Scroope indifferently. "Well, so 
long as you have come I don't care about anyone 


Miss Holmes 35 

Then he told her she was looking beautiful, and 
stared at her with such affection that I fell back a step or 
two and contemplated a picture of Judith vigorously 
engaged in cutting off the head of Holofernes. 

Presently the large door at the end of the room 
was thrown open and the immaculate Savage, who 
was acting as a kind of master of the ceremonies, 
announced in well-bred but penetrating tones, "Lady 
Longden and the Honourable Miss Holmes." I stared, 
like everybody else, but for a while her ladyship filled 
my eye. She was an ample and, to my mind, rather 
awful-looking person, clad in black satin she was a 
widow and very large diamonds. Her hair was white, 
her nose was hooked, her dark eyes were penetrating, 
and she had a bad cold in her head. That was all I 
found time to notice about her, for suddenly her 
daughter came into my line of vision. 

Truly she was a lovely girl, or rather, young 
woman, for she must have been two- or three-and- 
twenty. Not very tall, her proportions were rounded 
and exquisite, and her movements as graceful as those 
of a doe. Altogether she was doe-like, especially in the 
fineness of her lines and her large and liquid eyes. 
She was a dark beauty, with rich brown, waving hair, 
a clear olive complexion, a perfectly shaped mouth and 
very red lips. To me she looked more Italian or 
Spanish than Anglo-Saxon, and I believe that, as a 
matter of fact, she had some southern blood in her 
on her father's side. She wore a dress of soft rose 
colour, and her only ornaments were a string of pearls 
and a single red camellia. I could see but one blemish, 
if it were a blemish, in her perfect person, and that 
was a curious white mark upon her breast, which in 
its shape exactly resembled the crescent moon. 

The face, however, impressed me with other than 
its physical qualities. It was bright, intelligent, sym- 

36 The Ivory Child 

pathetic and, just now, happy. But I thought it more, 
I thought it mystical. Something that her mother said 
to her, probably about her dress, caused her smile to 
vanish for a moment, and then, from beneath it as it 
were, appeared this shadow of innate mysticism. In 
a second it was gone and she was laughing again ; but 
I, who am accustomed to observe, had caught it, per- 
haps alone of all that company. Moreover, it reminded 
me of something. 

What was it ? Ah ! I knew. A look that sometimes 
I had seen upon the face of a certain Zulu lady named 
Mameena, especially at the moment of her wonderful 
and tragic death. The thought made me shiver a little ; 
I could not tell why, for certainly, I reflected, this high- 
placed and fortunate English girl had nothing in 
common with that fate-driven Child of Storm, whose 
dark and imperial spirit dwelt in the woman called 
Mameena. They were as far apart as Zululand is from 
Essex. Yet I was quite sure that both of them had 
touch with hidden things. 

Lord Ragnall, looking more like a splendid Van 
Dyck than ever in his evening dress, stepped forward to 
greet his fiance'e and her mother with a courtly bow, and 
I turned again to continue my contemplation of the 
stalwart Judith and the very ugly head of Holofernes. 
Presently I was aware of a soft voice a very rich and 
thrilling voice asking quite close to me : 

" Which is he ? Oh ! you need not answer, dear. I 
know him from the description." 

"Yes," replied Lord Ragnall to Miss Holmes for 
it was she "you are quite right. I will introduce you 
to him presently. But, love, whom do you wish to take 
you into dinner? I can't your mother, you know; 
and as there are no titles here to-night, you may make 
your choice. Would you like old Dr. Jeffreys, 
the clergyman ? " 

Miss Holmes 37 

"No," she replied, with quiet firmness, "I know him ; 
he took me in once before. I wish Mr. Allan 
Quatermain to take me in. He is interesting, and I 
want to hear about Africa." 

"Very well," he answered, "and he is more interest- 
ing than all the rest put together. But, Luna, why are 
you always thinking and talking about Africa? One 
might imagine that you were going to live there." 

"So I may one day," she answered dreamily. "Who 
knows where one has lived, or where one will live ! " 
And again I saw that mystic look come into her face. 

I heard no more of that conversation, which it is 
improbable that anyone whose ears had not been 
sharpened by a lifetime of listening in great silences 
would have caught at all. To tell the truth, I made 
myself scarce, slipping off to the other end of the big 
room in the hope of evading the kind intentions of Miss 
Holmes. I have a great dislike of being put out of my 
place, and I felt that among all these local celebrities it 
was not fitting that I should be selected to take in the 
future bride on an occasion of this sort. But it was of 
no use, for presently Lord Ragnall hunted me up, 
bringing the young lady with him. 

"Let me introduce you to Miss Holmes, Quater- 
main," he said. "She is anxious that you should take 
her into dinner, if you will be so kind. She is very 
interested in in " 

"Africa," I suggested. 

"In Mr. Quatermain, who, I am told, is one of the 
greatest hunters in Africa," she corrected me, with a 
dazzling smile. 

I bowed, not knowing what to say. Lord Ragnall 
laughed and vanished, leaving us together. Dinner 
was announced. Presently we were wending in the 
centre of a long and glittering procession across the 
central hall to the banqueting chamber, a splendid room 

38 The Ivory Child 

with a roof like a church that was said to have been 
built in the times of the Plantagenets. Here Mr. 
Savage, who evidently had been looking out for her 
future ladyship, conducted us to our places, which 
were upon the left of Lord Ragnall, who sat at the head 
of the broad table with Lady Longden on his right. 
Then the old clergyman, Dr. Jeffreys, a pompous 
and rather frowsy ecclesiastic, said grace, for grace 
was still in fashion at such feasts in those days, asking 
Heaven to make us truly thankful for the dinner we 
were about to consume. 

Certainly there was a great deal to be thankful for 
in the eating and drinking line, but of all this I re- 
member little, except a general vision of silver dishes, 
champagne, splendour, and things I did not want to eat 
being constantly handed to me. What I do remember 
is Miss Holmes, and nothing but Miss Holmes; the 
charm of her conversation, the light of her beautiful 
eyes, the fragrance of her hair, her most flattering 
interest in my unworthy self. To tell the truth, we got 
on "like fire in the winter grass," as the Zulus say, and 
when that dinner was over the grass was still burning. 

I don't think that Lord Ragnall quite liked it, but 
fortunately Lady Longden was a talkative person. First 
she conversed about her cold in the head, sneezing at 
intervals, poor soul, and being reduced to send for 
another handkerchief after the entries. Then she got 
off upon business matters; to judge from the look of 
boredom on her host's face, I think it must have been 
settlements. Three times did I hear him refer her to 
the lawyers without avail. Lastly, when he thought 
he had escaped, she embarked upon a quite vigorous 
argument with Dr. Jeffreys about church matters I 
gathered that she was "low" and he was "high" in 
which she insisted upon his lordship acting as referee. 
"Do try to keep your attention fixed, George," I 

Miss Holmes 39 

heard her say severely. "To allow it to wander when 
high spiritual affairs are under discussion (sneeze) is 
scarcely reverent. Could you tell the man to shut that 
door? The draught is dreadful. It is quite impossible 
for you to agree with both of us, as you say you do, 
seeing that metaphorically Dr. Jeffreys is at one pole 
and I am at the other." (Sneeze.) 

"Then I wish I were at the Tropic of Cancer," I 
heard him mutter with a groan. 

In vain; he had to keep his "attention fixed" on 
this point for the next three-quarters of an hour. So 
as Miss Manners was at the other side of me, and 
Scroope, unhampered by the presence of any prospective 
mother-in-law, was at the other side of her, for all 
practical purposes Miss Holmes and I were left alone. 

She began by saying : 

"I hear you beat Sir Junius Fortescue out shooting 
to-day, and won a lot of money from him which you 
gave to the Cottage Hospital. I don't like shooting, 
and I don't like betting; and it's strange, because you 
don't look like a man who bets. But I detest Sir Junius 
Fortescue, and that is a bond of union between us." 

"I never said I detested him." 

"No, but I am sure you do. Your face changed 
when I mentioned his name." 

"As it happens, you are right. But, Miss Holmes, 
I should like you to understand that you were also right 
when you said I did not look like a betting man." And 
I told her some of the story of Van Koop and the 

" Ah ! " she said, when I had finished, " I always 
felt sure he was a horror. And my mother wanted me, 
just because he pretended to be low church but that's 
a secret." 

Then I congratulated her upon her approaching 
marriagej saying what a joyful thing it was now and 

40 The Ivory Child 

again to see everything going in real, happy, story-book 
fashion : beauty, male and female, united by love, high 
rank, wealth, troops of friends, health of body, a lovely 
and an ancient home in a settled land where dangers 
do not come at present respect and affection of crowds 
of dependents, the prospect of a high and useful career 
of a sort whereof the door is shut to most people, every- 
thing in short that human beings who are not actually 
royal could desire or deserve. Indeed after my second 
glass of champagne I grew quite eloquent on these and 
kindred points, being moved thereto by memories of 
the misery that is in the world which formed so great 
a contrast to the lot of this striking and brilliant pair. 

She listened to me attentively and answered : 

"Thank you for your kind thoughts and wishes. 
But does it not strike you, Mr. Quatermain, that there 
is something ill-omened in such talk? I believe that it 
does; that as you finished speaking it occurred to you 
that after all the future is as much veiled from all of 
us as as the picture which hangs behind its curtain 
of rose-coloured silk in Lord Ragnall's study is from 

" How did you know that ? " I asked sharply in a 
low voice. For by the strangest of coincidences, as I 
concluded my somewhat old-fashioned little speech of 
compliments, this very reflection had entered my mind, 
and with it the memory of the veiled picture which Mr. 
Savage had pointed out to me on the previous morning. 

"I can't say, Mr. Quatermain, but I did know it. 
You were thinking of the picture, were you not ? " 

"And if I was," I said, avoiding a direct reply, 
"what of it? Though it is hidden from everybody else, 
he has only to draw the curtain and see you." 

"Supposing he should draw the curtain one day 
and see nothing, Mr. Quatermain ? " 

"Then the picture would have been stolen, that is 

Miss Holmes 41 

all, and he would have to search for it till he found it 
again, which doubtless sooner or later he would do." 

"Yes, sooner or later. But where? Perhaps you 
have lost a picture or two in your time, Mr. Quatermain, 
and are better able to answer the question than I am." 

There was a silence for a few moments, lor this talk 
of lost pictures brought back memories which choked 

Then she began to speak again, low, quickly, and 
with suppressed passion, but acting wonderfully all the 
while. Knowing that eyes were on her, her gestures 
and the expression of her face were such as might have 
been those of any young lady of fashion who was talk- 
ing of everyday affairs, such as dancing, or flowers, or 
jewels. She smiled and even laughed occasionally. She 
played with the golden salt-cellar in front of her and, 
upsetting a little of the salt, threw it over her left 
shoulder, appearing to ask me if I were a victim of that 
ancient habit, and so on. 

But all the while she was talking deeply of deep 
things, such as I should never have thought would 
pass her mind. This was the substance of what she 
said, for I cannot set it all down verbatim ; after so 
many years my memory fails me. 

"I am not like other women. Something moves me 
to tell you so, something very real and powerful which 
pushes me as a strong man might. It is odd, because 
I have never spoken to anyone else like that, not to my 
mother for instance, or even to Lord Ragnall. They 
would neither of them understand, although they would 
misunderstand differently. My mother would think I 
ought to see a doctor and if you knew that doctor ! 
He," and she nodded towards Lord Ragnall, "would 
think that my engagement had upset me, or that I had 
grown rather more religious than I ought to be at my 
age, and been reflecting too much well, on the end of 

42 The Ivory Child 

all things. From a child I have understood that I am 
a mystery set in the midst of many other mysteries. It 
all came to me suddenly one night when I was about 
nine years old. I seemed to see the past and the future, 
although I could grasp neither. Such a long, long past 
and such an infinite future. I don't know what I saw, 
and still see sometimes. It comes in a flash, and is in 
a flash forgotten. My mind cannot hold it. It is too 
big for my mind; you might as well try to pack Dr. 
Jeffreys there into this wine-glass. Only two facts re- 
main written on my heart. The first is that there is 
trouble ahead of me, curious and unusual trouble; and 
the second, that permanently, continually, I, or a part 
of me, have something to do with Africa, a country 
of which I know nothing except from a few very dull 
books. Also, by the way this is a new thought that 
I have a great deal to do with you. That is why I am 
so interested in Africa and you. Tell me about Africa 
and yourself now, while we have the chance." And she 
ended rather abruptly, adding in a louder voice, "You 
have lived there all your life, have you not, Mr. 
Quatermain ? " 

"I rather think your mother would be right about 
the doctor, I mean," I said. 

"You say that, but you don't believe it. Oh! you 
are very transparent, Mr. Quatermain at least, to me." 

So, hurriedly enough, for these subjects seemed to 
me uncomfortable, even dangerous in a sense, I began 
to talk of the first thing about Africa that I remem- 
bered namely, of the legend of the Holy Flower that 
was guarded by a huge ape, of which I had heard from 
a white man who was supposed to be rather mad, who 
went by the name of Brother John. Also I told her 
that there was something in it, as I had with me a 
specimen of the flower. 

"Oh I show it me," she said. 

Miss Holmes 43 

I replied that I feared I could not, as it was locked 
away in a safe in London, whither I was returning on 
the morrow. I promised, however, to send her a life- 
sized water-colour drawing of which I had caused several 
to be made. She asked me if I were going to look for 
this flower, and I said that I hoped so if I could make 
the necessary arrangements. Next she asked me if there 
chanced to be any other African quests upon which I 
had set my mind. I replied that there were several. 
For instance, I had heard vaguely through Brother 
John, and indirectly from one or two other sources, of 
the existence of a certain tribe in East Central Africa 
Arabs or semi-Arabs who were reported to worship a 
child that always remained a child. This child, I took 
it, was a dwarf ; but as I was interested in native religious 
customs which were infinite in their variety, I should 
much like to find out the truth of the matter. 

"Talking of Arabs," she broke in, "I will tell you 
a curious story. Once when I was a little girl, eight 
or nine years of age it was just before that kind of 
awakening of which I have spoken to you I was play- 
ing in Kensington Gardens, for we lived in London at 
the time, in the charge of my nurse-governess. She 
was talking to some young man who she said was her 
cousin, and told me to run about with my hoop and 
not to bother. I drove the hoop across the grass to 
some elm trees. From behind one of the trees came 
out two tall men dressed in white robes and turbans, 
who looked to me like scriptural characters in a picture- 
book. One was an elderly man with flashing, black 
eyes, hooked nose, and a long grey beard. The other 
was much younger, but I do not remember him so well. 
They were both brown in colour, but otherwise almost 
like white men ; not negroes by any means. My hoop 
hit the elder man, and I stood still, not knowing what 
to say. He bowed politely and picked it up, but did 

44 The Ivory Child 

not offer to return it to me. They talked together 
rapidly, and one of them pointed to the moon-shaped 
birthmark which you see I have upon my neck, for it 
was hot weather, and I was wearing a low-cut frock. It 
was because of this mark that my father named me 
Luna. The elder of the two said in broken English : 

" ' What is your name, pretty little girl ? ' 

"I told him it was Luna Holmes. Then he drew 
from his robe a box made of scented wood, and, opening 
it, took out some sweetmeat which looked as if it had 
been frozen, and gave me a piece that, being very fond 
of sweets, I put into my mouth. Next, he bowled the 
hoop along the ground into the shadow of the trees it 
was evening time and beginning to grow dark saying, 
' Run, catch it, little girl ! ' 

"I began to run, but something in the taste of that 
sweet caused me to drop it from my lips. Then all grew 
misty, and the next thing I remember was finding 
myself in the arms of the younger Eastern, with the 
nurse and her ' cousin,' a stalwart person like a soldier, 
standing in front of us. 

"' Little girl go ill,' said the elder Arab. ' We seek 

"'You drop that child,' answered the 'cousin,' 
doubling his fists. Then I grew faint again, and when 
I came to myself the two white-robed men had gone. 
All the way home my governess scolded me for accept- 
ing sweets from strangers, saying that if my parents 
came to know of it, I should be whipped and sent to 
bed. Of course, I begged her not to tell them, and at 
last she consented. Do you know, I think you are the 
first to whom I have ever mentioned the matter, of 
which I am sure the governess never breathed a word, 
though after that, whenever we walked in the gardens, 
her ' cousin ' always came to look after us. In the end 
I think she married him." 

Miss Holmes 45 

"You believe the sweet was drugged?" I asked. 

She nodded. "There was something very strange 
in it. It was a night or two after I had tasted it that 
I had what just now I called my awakening, and began 
to think about Africa." 

"Have you ever seen these men again, Miss 
Holmes?" ' 

"No, never." 

At this moment I heard Lady Longden say, in a 
severe voice : 

"My dear Luna, I am sorry to interrupt your 
absorbing conversation, but we are all waiting for you." 

So they were, for to my horror I saw that everyone 
was standing up except ourselves. 

Miss Holmes departed in a hurry, while Scroope 
whispered in my ear with a snigger : 

"I say, Allan, if you carry on like that with his 
young lady, his lordship will be growing jealous of 

"Don't be a fool," I said sharply. But there was 
something in his remark, for as Lord Ragnall passed 
on his way to the other end of the table, he said in a 
low voice and with rather a forced smile : 

"Well, Quatermain, I hope your dinner has not 
been as dull as mine, although your appetite seemed so 

Then I reflected that I could not remember having 
eaten a thing since the first entree. So overcome was I 
that, rejecting all Scroope's attempts at conversation, 
I sat silent, drinking port and filling up with dates, until 
not long afterwards we went into the drawing-room, 
where I sat down as far from Miss Holmes as possible, 
and looked at a book of views of Jerusalem. 

While I was thus engaged, Lord Ragnall, pitying 
my lonely condition, or being instigated thereto by 
Miss Holmes, I know not which, came up and began 

46 The Ivory Child 

to chat with me about African big-game shooting. Also 
he asked me what was my permanent address in that 
country. I told him Durban, and in my turn asked 
why he wanted to know. 

"Because Miss Holmes seems quite crazy about the 
place, and I expect I shall be dragged out there one 
day," he replied, quite gloomily. 

It was a prophetic remark. 

At this moment our conversation was interrupted by 
Lady Longden, who came to bid her future son-in-law 
good night. She said that she must go to bed, and put 
her feet in mustard and water as her cold was so bad, 
which left me wondering whether she meant to carry 
out this operation in the bed. I recommended her to 
take quinine, a suggestion she acknowledged rather in- 
consequently by remarking in somewhat icy tones that 
she supposed I sat up to all hours of the night in Africa. 
I replied that frequently I did, waiting for the sun to 
rise next day, for that member of the British aristocracy 
irritated me. 

Thus we parted, and I never saw her again. She 
died many years ago, poor soul, and I suppose is now 
freezing her former acquaintances in the Shades, for I 
cannot imagine that she ever had a friend. They talk 
a great deal about the influences of heredity nowadays, 
but I don't believe very much in them myself. Who, 
for instance, could conceive that persons so utterly 
different in every way as Lady Longden and her 
daughter, Miss Holmes, could be mother and child? 
Our bodies, no doubt, we do inherit from our ancestors, 
but not our individualities. These come from far away. 

A good many of the guests went at the same time, 
having long distances to drive on that cold frosty 
night, although it was only just ten o'clock. For as 
was usual at that period even in fashionable houses, we 
had dined at seven. 



AFTER Lord Ragnall had seen his guests to the door 
in the old-fashioned manner, he returned and asked me 
if I played cards, or whether I preferred music. I was 
assuring him that I hated the sight of a card when 
Mr. Savage appeared in his silent way and respectfully 
inquired of his lordship whether any gentleman was 
staying in the house whose Christian name was 
Here-come-a-zany. Lord Ragnall looked at him with 
a searching eye as though he suspected him of being 
drunk, and then asked what he meant by such a 
ridiculous question. 

"I mean, my lord," replied Mr. Savage with a 
touch of offence in his tone, "that two foreign indi- 
viduals in white clothes have arrived at the castle, 
stating that they wish to speak at once with a Mr. 
Here-come-a-zany who is staying here. I told them to 
go away as the butler said he could make nothing of 
their talk, but they only sat down in the snow and said 
they would wait for Here-come-a-zany." 

"Then you had better put them in the old guard- 
room, lock them up with something to eat, and send the 
stable-boy for the policeman, who is a zany if ever 
anybody was. I expect they are after the pheasants." 

"Stop a bit," I said, for an idea had occurred to me. 
"The message may be meant for me, though I can't 
conceive who sent it. My native name is Macumazana, 
which possibly Mr. Savage has not caught quite 
correctly. Shall I go to see these men ? " 


48 The Ivory Child 

"I wouldn't do that in this cold, Quatermain," Lord 
Ragnall answered. "Did they say what they are, 
Savage ? " 

"I made out that they were conjurers, my lord. At 
least when I told them to go away one of them said, 
* You will go first, gentleman.' Then, my lord, I 
heard a hissing sound in my coat-tail pocket and put- 
ting my hand into it, I found a large snake which 
dropped on the ground and vanished. It quite paralysed 
me, my lord, and while I stood there wondering whether 
I was bitten, a mouse jumped out of the kitchenmaid's 
hair. She had been laughing at their dress, my lord, 
but now she's screaming in hysterics." 

The solemn aspect of Mr. Savage as he narrated 
these unholy marvels was such that, like the kitchen- 
maid, we both burst into ill-timed merriment. 
Attracted by our laughter, Miss Holmes, Miss Manners, 
with whom she was talking, and some of the other 
guests, approached and asked what was the matter. 

"Savage here declares that there are two conjurers 
in the kitchen premises, who have been producing 
snakes out of his pocket and mice from the hair of one 
of the maids, and who want to see Mr. Quatermain," 
Lord Ragnall answered. 

" Conjurers ! Oh, do have them in, George," ex- 
claimed Miss Holmes; while Miss Manners and the 
others, who were getting a little tired of promiscuous 
conversation, echoed her request. 

"By all means," he answered, "though we have 
enough mice here without their bringing any more. 
Savage, go and tell your two friends that Mr. Here- 
come-a-zany is waiting for them in the drawing-room, 
and that the company would like to see some of their 

Savage bowed and departed, like a hero to execution, 
for by his pallor I could see that he was in a great fright. 

HarOt and Marftt 49 

When he had gone we set to work and cleared a space 
in the middle of the room, in front of which we arranged 
chairs for the company to sit on. 

"No doubt they are Indian jugglers," said Lord 
Ragnall, "and will want a place to grow their 
mango-tree, as I remember seeing them do in Kashmir." 

As he spoke the door opened and Mr. Savage 
appeared through it, walking much faster than was his 
wont. I noted also that he gripped the pockets of his 
swallow-tail coat firmly in his hand. 

"Mr. Hare-root and Mr. Mare-root," he announced. 

"Hare-root and Mare-root ! " repeated Lord Ragnall. 

"Harut and Marut, I expect," I said. "I think I 
have read somewhere that they were great magicians, 
whose names these conjurers have taken." (Since then 
I have discovered that they are mentioned in the Koran 
as masters of the Black Art.) 

A moment later two men followed him through the 
doorway. The first was a tall, Eastern-looking person 
with a grave countenance, a long, white beard, a hooked 
nose, and flashing, hawk-like eyes. The second was 
shorter and rather stout, also much younger. He had 
a genial, smiling face, small, beady-black eyes, and 
was clean-shaven. They were very light in colour; 
indeed I have seen Italians who are much darker; and 
there was about their whole aspect a certain air of 

Instantly I remembered the story that Miss Holmes 
had told me at dinner and looked at her covertly, to see 
that she had turned quite pale and was trembling a little. 
I do not think that anyone else noticed this, however, 
as all were staring at the strangers. Moreover she 
recovered herself in a moment, and, catching my eye, 
laid her finger on her lips in token of silence. 

The men were clothed in thick fur-lined cloaks, 
which they took off and, folding them neatly, laid upon 

50 The Ivory Child 

the floor, standing revealed in robes of a beautiful 
whiteness and in large plain turbans, also white. 

"High-class Somali Arabs," thought I to myself, 
noting the while that as they arranged the robes they 
were taking in every one of us with their quick eyes. 
One of them shut the door, leaving Savage on this 
side of it as though they meant him to be present. Then 
they walked towards us, each of them carrying an orna- 
mental basket made apparently of split reeds, that 
contained doubtless their conjuring outfit and probably 
the snake which Savage had found in his pocket. To 
my surprise they came straight to me, and, having set 
down the baskets, lifted their hands above their heads, 
as a person about to dive might do, and bowed till the 
points of their fingers touched the floor. Next they 
spoke, not in Arabic as I had expected that they would, 
but in Bantu, which of course I understood perfectly 

"I, Harut, head priest and doctor of the White 
Kendah People, greet you, O Macumazana," said the 
elder man. 

" I, Marut, a priest and doctor of the People of the 
White Kendah, greet you, O Watcher by Night, whom 
we have travelled far to find," said the younger man. 
Then together, 

"We both greet you, O Lord, who seem small but 
are great, O Chief with a troubled past and with a 
mighty future, O Beloved of Mameena who has ' gone 
down ' but still speaks from beneath, Mameena who 
was and is of our company." 

At this point it was my turn to shiver and become 
pale, as any may guess who may have chanced to read 
the history of Mameena, and the turn of Miss Holmes 
to watch me with animated interest. 

"O Slayer of evil men and beasts! " they went on, 
in their rich-voiced, monotonous chant, "who, as our 

Harftt and Marut 51 

magic tells us, are destined to deliver our land from the 
terrible scourge, we greet you, we bow before you, we 
acknowledge you as our lord and brother, to whom we 
vow safety among us and in the desert, to whom we 
promise a great reward." 

Again they bowed, once, twice, thrice; then stood 
silent before me with folded arms. 

"What on earth are they saying?" asked Scroope. 
" I could catch a few words " he knew a little kitchen 
Zulu "but not much." 

I told him briefly while the others listened. 

"What does Mameena mean?" asked Miss Holmes, 
with a horrible acuteness. "Is it a woman's name?" 

Hearing her, Harut and Marut bowed as though 
doing reverence to that name. I am sorry to say that 
at this point I grew confused, though really there was 
no reason why I should, and muttered something about 
a native girl who had made trouble in her day. 

Miss Holmes and the other ladies looked at me with 
amused disbelief, and to my dismay the venerable Harut 
turned to Miss Holmes, and with his inevitable bow, 
said in broken English : 

"Mameena very beautiful woman, perhaps more 
beautiful than you, lady. Mameena love the white lord 
Macumazana. She love him while she live, she love 
him now she dead. She tell me so again just now. 
You ask white lord tell you pretty story of how he kiss 
her before she kill herself." 

Needless to say all this very misleading information 
was received by the audience with an attention that I 
can but call rapt, and in a kind of holy silence which 
was broken only by a sudden burst of sniggering on 
the part of Scroope. I favoured him with my fiercest 
frown. Then I fell upon that venerable villain Harut, 
and belaboured him in Bantu, while the audience 
listened as intently as though they understood. 

52 The Ivory Child 

I asked him what he meant by coming here to 
asperse my character. I asked him who the deuce he 
was. I asked him how he came to know anything about 
Mameena, and finally I told him that soon or late I 
would be even with him, and paused exhausted. 

He stood there looking for all the world like a statue 
of the patriarch Job as I imagine him, and when I had 
done, replied without moving a muscle and in English : 

"O Lord, Zikali, Zulu wizard, friend of mine! All 
great wizard friend just like all elephant and all snake. 
Zikali make me know Mameena, and she tell me story 
and send you much love, and say she wait for you 
always." (More sniggers from Scroope, and still in- 
tenser interest evinced by Miss Holmes and others.) 
"If you like, I show you Mameena 'fore I go." 
(Murmurs from Miss Holmes and Miss Manners of 
"Oh, please do! ") "But that very little business, for 
what one long-ago lady out of so many ? " 

Then suddenly he broke into Bantu, and added : 
"A jest is a jest, Macumazana, though often there is 
meaning in a jest, and you shall see Mameena if you 
will. I come here to ask you to do my people a service 
for which you shall not lack reward. We, the White 
Kendah, the People of the Child, are at war with the 
Black Kendah, our subjects who outnumber us. The 
Black Kendah have an evil spirit for a god, which spirit 
from the beginning has dwelt in the largest elephant 
in all the world, a beast that none can kill, but which 
kills many and bewitches more. While that elephant, 
which is named Jana, lives we, the People of the Child, 
go in terror, for day by day it destroys us. We have 
learned how it does not matter that you alone can 
kill that elephant. If you will come and kill it, we will 
show you the place where all the elephants go to die, 
and you shall take their ivory, many wagon-loads, and 
grow rich. Soon you are going on a journey that has 

Harftt and Marflt 53 

to do with a flower, and you will visit peoples named the 
Mazitu and the Pongo who live on an island in a lake. 
Far beyond the Pongo and across the desert dwell my 
people, the Kendah, in a secret land. When you wish 
to visit us, as you will do, journey to the north of that 
lake where the Pongo dwell, and stay there on the edge 
of the desert shooting till we come. Now mock me if 
you will, but do not forget, for these things shall befall 
in their season, though that time be far. If we meet no 
more for a while, still do not forget. When you have 
need of gold or of the ivory that is gold, then journey 
to the north of the lake where the Pongo dwell, and 
call on the names of Harut and Marut." 

"And call on the names of Harut and Marut," re- 
peated the younger man, who hitherto appeared to take 
no interest in our talk. 

Next, before I could answer, before I could think the 
thing out indeed, for all this breath from savage and 
mystical Africa blowing on me suddenly here in an 
Essex drawing-room, seemed to overwhelm me, the 
ineffable Harut proceeded in his English conjurer's 
patter : 

"Rich ladies and gentlemen want see trick by poor 
old wizard from centre Africa. Well, we show them, 
but please 'member no magic, all quite simple trick. 
Teach it you if you pay. Please not look too hard, no 
want you learn how it done. What you like see ? Tree 
grow out of nothing, eh ? Good ! Please lend me that 
plate what you call him china." 

Then the performance began. The tree grew admir- 
ably upon the china plate under the cover of an anti- 
macassar. A number of bits of stick danced together 
on the said plate, apparently without being touched. At 
a whistle from Marut a second snake crawled out of the 
pocket of the horrified Mr. Savage, who stood observing 
these proceedings at a respectful distance, erected itself 

54 The Ivory Child 

on its tail upon the plate and took fire till it was con- 
sumed to ashes, and so forth. 

The show was very good, but to tell the truth I did 
not take much notice of it, for I had seen similar things 
before and was engaged in thoughts excited by what 
Harut had said to me. At length the pair paused amidst 
the clapping of the audience, and Marut began to pack 
up the properties as though all were done. Then Harut 
observed casually : 

"The Lord Macumazana think this poor business and 
he right. Very poor business, any conjurer do better. 
All common trick " here his eye fell upon Mr. Savage 
who was wriggling uneasily in the background. "What 
matter with that gentleman ? Brother Marut, go see." 

"Brother Marut" went and freed Mr. Savage from 
two more snakes which seemed to have taken possession 
of various parts of his garments. Also, amidst shouts 
of laughter, from a large dead rat which he appeared to 
draw from his well-oiled hair. 

" Ah ! " said Harut, as his confederate returned with 
these prizes, leaving Savage collapsed in a chair, "snake 
love that gentleman much. He earn great money in 
Africa. Well, he keep rat in hair; hungry snake always 
want rat. But as I say, this poor business. Now you 
like to see some better, eh ? Mameena, eh ? " 

"No," I replied firmly, whereat everyone laughed. 

" Elephant Jana we want you kill, eh ? Just as he 
look this minute." 

"Yes," I said, "very much indeed, only how will 
you show it me ? " 

"That quite easy, Macumazana. You just smoke 
little Kendah 'bacco and see many things, if you have 
gift, as I think you got, and as I almost sure that lady 
got," and he pointed to Miss Holmes. "Sometimes 
they things people want see, and sometimes they things 
people not want see." 

Harflt and Marflt 55 

"Dakka," I said contemptuously, alluding to the 
Indian hemp on which natives make themselves drunk 
throughout great districts of Africa. 

" Oh ! no, not dakka, that common stuff ; this 'bacco 
much better than dakka, only grow in Kendah-land. 
You think all nonsense ? Well, you see. Give me 
match please." 

Then while we watched he placed some tobacco, at 
least it looked like tobacco, in a little wooden bowl that 
he also produced from his basket. Next he said some- 
thing to his companion, Marut, who drew a flute from 
his robe made out of a thick reed, and began to play 
on it a wild and melancholy music, the sound of which 
seemed to affect my backbone as standing on a great 
height often does. Presently too Harut broke into a low 
song whereof I could not understand a word, that rose 
and fell with the music of the flute. Now he struck a 
match, which seemed incongruous in the midst of this 
semi-magical ceremony, and taking a pinch of the 
tobacco, lit it and dropped it among the rest. A pale, 
blue smoke arose from the bowl and with it a very sweet 
odour not unlike that of the tuberoses gardeners grow 
in hot-houses, but more searching. 

"Now you breathe smoke, Macumazana," he said, 
"and tell us what you see. Oh ! no fear, that not hurt 
you. Just like cigarette. Look," and he inhaled some 
of the vapour and blew it out through his nostrils, 
after which his face seemed to change to me, though 
what the change was I could not define. 

I hesitated till Scroope said, 

"Come, Allan, don't shirk this Central African 
adventure. I'll try if you like." 

"No," said Harut brusquely, "you no good." 

Then curiosity and perhaps the fear of being laughed 
at overcame me. I took the bowl and held it under my 
nose, while Harut threw over my head the antimacassar 

56 The Ivory Child 

which he had used in the mango trick, to keep in the 
fumes I suppose. 

At first these fumes were unpleasant, but just as I 
was about to drop the bowl they seemed to become 
agreeable and to penetrate to the inmost recesses of my 
being. The general effect of them was not unlike that 
of the laughing gas which dentists give, with this 
difference, that whereas the gas produces insensibility, 
these fumes seemed to set the mind on fire and to burn 
away all limitations of time and distance. Things shifted 
before me. It was as though I were no longer in that 
room but travelling with inconceivable rapidity. 

Suddenly I appeared to stop before a curtain of mist. 
The mist rolled up in front of me and I saw a wild and 
wonderful scene. There lay a lake surrounded by dense 
African forest. The sky above was still red with the last 
lights of sunset and in it floated the full moon. On the 
eastern side of the lake was a great open space where 
nothing seemed to grow and all about this space were 
the skeletons of hundreds of dead elephants. There they 
lay, some of them almost covered with grey mosses 
hanging to their bones, through which their yellow 
tusks projected as though they had been dead for cen- 
turies; others with the rotting hide still on them. I 
knew that I was looking on a cemetery of elephants, the 
place where these great beasts went to die, as I have 
since been told the extinct moas did in New Zealand. 
All my life as a hunter had I heard rumours of these 
cemeteries, but never before did I see such a spot even 
in a dream. 

See ! There was one dying now, a huge gaunt bull 
that looked as though it were several hundred years old. 
It stood there swaying to and fro. Then it lifted its 
trunk, I suppose to trumpet, though of course I could 
hear nothing, and slowly sank upon its knees and so 
remained in the last relaxation of death. 

I took the bowl and held it under my nose " (see -page 55). 

Harflt and MarQt 57 

Almost in the centre of this cemetery was a little 
mound of water-washed rock that had endured when 
the rest of the stony plain was denuded in past epochs. 
Suddenly upon that rock appeared the shape of the most 
gigantic elephant that ever I beheld in all my long 
experience. It had one enormous tusk, but the other 
was deformed and broken off short. Its sides were 
scarred as though with fighting and its eyes shone red 
and wickedly. Held in its trunk was the body of a 
woman whose hair hung down upon one side and whose 
feet hung down upon the other. Clasped in her arms 
was a child that seemed to be still living. 

The rogue, as a brute of this sort is called, for 
evidently such it was, dropped the corpse to the ground 
and stood a while, flapping its ears. Then it felt for 
and picked up the child with its trunk, swung it to and 
fro and finally tossed it high into the air, hurling it far 
away. After this it walked to the elephant that I had 
just seen die, and charged the carcass, knocking it over. 
Then having lifted its trunk as though to trumpet in 
triumph, it shambled off towards the forest and vanished. 

The curtain of mist fell again and in it, dimly, I 
thought I saw well, never mind who or what I saw. 
Then I awoke. 

"Well, did you see anything?" asked a chorus of 

I told them what I had seen, leaving out the last 

"I say, old fellow," said Scroope, "you must have 
been pretty clever to get all that in, for your eyes weren't 
shut for more than ten seconds." 

"Then I wonder what you would say if I repeated 
everything," I answered, for I still felt dreamy and not 
quite myself. 

"You see elephant Jana?" asked Harut. "He kill 
woman and child, eh? Well, he do that every night. 

58 The Ivory Child 

Well, that why people of White Kendah want you kill 
him and take all that ivory which they no dare touch 
because it in holy place and Black Kendah no let them. 
So he live still. That what we wish know. Thank you 
much, Macumazana. You very good look-through- 
distance man. Just what I think. Kendah 'bacco smoke 
work very well in you. Now, beautiful lady," he added 
turning to Miss Holmes, "you like look too? Better 
look. Who know what you see ? " 

Miss Holmes hesitated a moment, studying me with 
an inquiring eye. But I made no sign, being in truth 
very curious to hear her experiences. 

"Yes," she said. 

"I should prefer, Luna, that you left this business 
alone," remarked Lord Ragnall uneasily. "I think it 
is time that you ladies went to bed." 

"Here is a match," said Miss Holmes to Harut who 
was engaged in putting more tobacco into the bowl, the 
suspicion of a smile upon his grave and statuesque 
countenance. Harut received the match with a low bow 
and fired the stuff as before. Then he handed the bowl, 
from which once again the blue smoke curled upwards, 
to Miss Holmes and gently and gracefully let the anti- 
macassar fall over it and her head, which it draped as 
a wedding veil might do. A few seconds later she threw 
off the antimacassar and cast the bowl, in which the 
fire was now out, on to the floor. Then she stood up 
with wide eyes, looking wondrous lovely and, notwith- 
standing her lack of height, majestic. 

"I have been in another world," she said in a low 
voice as though she spoke to the air, "I have travelled 
a great way. I found myself in a small place made of 
stone. It was dark in the place, the fire in that bowl 
lit it up. There was nothing there except a beautiful 
statue of a naked baby which seemed to be carved in 
yellow ivory, and a chair made of ebony inlaid with 

Harflt and Marflt 59 

ivory and seated with string. I stood in front of the 
statue of the Ivory Child. It seemed to come to life 
and smile at me. Round its neck was a string of red 
stones. It took them from its neck and set them upon 
mine. Then it pointed to the chair, and I sat down in 
the chair. That was all." 

Harut followed her words with an interest that I 
could see was intense, although he attempted to hide it. 
Then he asked me to translate them, which I did. 

As their full sense came home to him, although his 
face remained impassive, I saw his dark eyes shine with 
the light of triumph. Moreover I heard him whisper 
to Marut words that seemed to mean, 

"The Sacred Child accepts the Guardian. The 
Spirit of the White Kendah finds a voice again." 

Then as though involuntarily, but with the utmost 
reverence, both of them bowed deeply towards Miss 

A babel of conversation broke out. 

"What a ridiculous dream," I heard Lord Ragnall 
say in a vexed voice. "An ivory child that seemed to 
come to life and to give you a necklace. Whoever 
heard such nonsense ? " 

"Whoever heard such nonsense?" repeated Miss 
Holmes after him, as though in polite acquiescence, but 
speaking as an automaton might speak. 

"I say," interrupted Scroope, addressing Miss 
Manners, "this is a drawing-room entertainment and a 
half, isn't it, dear?" 

"I don't know," answered Miss Manners doubtfully, 
"it is rather too queer for my taste. Tricks are all very 
well, but when it comes to magic and visions I get 

"Well, I suppose the show is over," said Lord 
Ragnall. "Quatermain, would you mind asking your 
conjurer friends what I owe them?" 

60 The Ivory Child 

Here Harut, who had understood, paused from 
packing up his properties and answered, 

"Nothing, O great Lord, nothing. It is we owe you 
much. Here we learn what we want know long time. 
I mean if elephant Jana still kill people of Kendah. 
Kendah 'bacco no speak to us. Only speak to new 
spirit. You got great gift, lady, and you too, Macu- 
mazana. You not like smoke more Kendah 'bacco and 
look into past, eh ? Better look ! Very full, past, learn 
much there about all us ; learn how things begin. Make 
you understand lot what seem odd to-day. No ! Well, 
one day you look p'raps, 'cause past pull hard and call 
loud, only no one hear what it say. Good night, O great 
Lord. Good night, O beautiful lady. Good night, O 
Macumazana, till we meet again when you come kill 
elephant Jana. Blessing of the Heaven-Child, who give 
rain, who protect all danger, who give food, who give 
health, on you all." 

Then making many obeisances they walked back- 
wards to the door where they put on their long 

At a sign from Lord Ragnall I accompanied them, 
an office which, fearing more snakes, Mr. Savage was 
very glad to resign to me. Presently we stood outside 
the house amidst the moaning trees, and very cold it 
was there. 

"What does all this mean, O men of Africa?" I 

"Answer the question yourself when you stand face 
to face with the great elephant Jana that has in it an 
evil spirit, O Macumazana," replied Harut. "Nay, 
listen. We are far from our home and we sought tidings 
through those who could give it to us, and we have 
won those tidings, that is all. We are worshippers of 
the Heavenly Chile! that is eternal youth and all good 
things, but of late the Child has lacked a tongue. Yet 

Harftt and Marflt 61 

tonight it spoke again. Seek to know no more, you 
who in due season will know all things." 

"Seek to know no more," echoed Marut, "who 
already perhaps know too much, lest harm should come 
to you, Macumazana." 

"Where are you going to sleep to-night? " I asked. 

"We do not sleep here," answered Harut, "we walk 
to the great city and thence we find our way to Africa, 
where we shall meet you again. You know that we are 
no liars, common readers of thought and makers of 
tricks, for did not Dogeetah, the wandering white man, 
speak to you of the people of whom he had heard who 
worshipped the Child of Heaven ? Go in, Macumazana, 
ere you take harm in this horrible cold, and take with 
you this as a marriage gift from the Child of Heaven 
whom she met to-night, to the beautiful lady stamped 
with the sign of the young moon who is about to marry 
the great lord she loves." 

Then he thrust a little linen-wrapped parcel into my 
hand and with his companion vanished into the 

I returned to the drawing-room where the others were 
still discussing the remarkable performance of the two 
native conjurers. 

"They have gone," I said in answer to Lord Ragnall, 
"to walk to London as they said. But they have sent 
a wedding-present to Miss Holmes," and I showed the 
parcel . 

"Open it, Quatermain," he said again. 

"No, George," interrupted Miss Holmes, laughing, 
for by now she seemed to have quite recovered herself, 
"I like to open my own presents." 

He shrugged his shoulders and I handed her the 
parcel, which was neatly sewn up. Somebody produced 
scissors and the stitches were cut. Within the linen 
was a necklace of beautiful red stones, oval-shaped like 

62 The Ivory Child 

amber beads and of the size of a robin's egg. They 
were roughly polished and threaded on what I recog- 
nised at once to be hair from an elephant's tail. From 
certain indications I judged these stones, which might 
have been spinels or carbuncles, or even rubies, to be 
very ancient. Possibly they had once hung round the 
neck of some lady in old Egypt. Indeed a beautiful 
little statuette, also of red stone, which was suspended 
from the centre of the necklace, suggested that this 
was so, for it may well have been a likeness of one of 
the great gods of the Egyptians, the infant Horus, the 
son of Isis. 

"That is the necklace I saw which the Ivory Child 
gave me in my dream," said Miss Holmes quietly. 

Then with much deliberation she clasped it round her 



THE sequel to the events of this evening may be told 
very briefly and of it the reader can form his own 
judgment. I narrate it as it happened. 

That night I did not sleep at all well. It may have 
been because of the excitement of the great shoot in 
which I found myself in competition with another man 
whom I disliked and who had defrauded me in the past, 
to say nothing of its physical strain in cold and heavy 
weather. Or it may have been that my imagination was 
stirred by the arrival of that strange pair, Harut and 
Marut, apparently in search of myself, seven thousand 
miles away from any place where they can have known 
aught of an insignificant individual with a purely local 
repute. Or it may have been that the pictures which 
they showed me when under the influence of the fumes 
of their " tobacco " or of their hypnotism took an 
undue possession of my brain. 

Or lastly, the strange coincidence that the beautiful 
betrothed of my host should have related to me a tale of 
her childhood of which she declared she had never spoken 
before, and that within an hour the two principal actors 
in that tale should have appeared before my eyes and 
hers (for I may state that from the beginning I had no 
doubt that they were the same men), moved me and 
filled me with quite natural foreboding. Or all these 
things together may have tended to a concomitant effect. 
At any rate the issue was that I could not sleep. 

For hour after hour I lay thinking and in an irri- 


64 The Ivory Child 

tated way listening for the chimes of the Ragnall 
stable-clock which once had adorned the tower of the 
church and struck the quarters with a damnable reitera- 
tion. I concluded that Messrs. Harut and Marut were 
a couple of common Arab rogues such as I had seen 
performing at the African ports. Then a quarter struck 
and I concluded that the elephants' cemetery which I 
beheld in the smoke undoubtedly existed and that I 
meant to collar those thousands of pounds' worth of 
ivory before I died. Then after another quarter I 
concluded that there was no elephants' cemetery 
although by the way my old friend, Dogeetah or Brother 
John, had mentioned such a thing to me but that 
probably there was a tribe, as he had also mentioned, 
called the Kendah, who worshipped a baby, or rather its 

Well now, as had already occurred to me, the old 
Egyptians, of whom I was always fond of reading when 
I got a chance, also worshipped a child, Horus the 
Saviour. And that child had a mother called Isis sym- 
bolised in the crescent moon, the great Nature goddess, 
the mistress of mysteries to whose cult ten thousand 
priests were sworn do not Herodotus and others, 
especially Apuleius, tell us all about her ? And by a 
queer coincidence Miss Holmes had the mark of a 
crescent moon upon her breast. And when she was a 
child those two men, or others very like them, had 
pointed out that mark to each other. And I had seen 
them staring hard at it that night. And in her vapour- 
invoked dream the "Heavenly Child" alias Horus, or 
the double of Horus, the Ka, I think the Egyptians 
called it, had awakened at the sight of her and kissed her 
and given her the necklace of the goddess, and all the 
rest. What did it mean ? 

I went to sleep at last wondering what on earth it 
could mean, till presently that confounded clock woke 

The Plot 65 

me up again and I must go through the whole business 
once more. 

By degrees, this was towards dawn, I became aware 
that all hope of rest had vanished from me utterly; that 
I was most painfully awake, and what is more, oppressed 
by a curious fear to the effect that something was going 
to happen to Miss Holmes. So vivid did this fear be- 
come that at length I arose, lit a candle and dressed 
myself. As it happened I knew where Miss Holmes 
slept. Her room, which I had seen her enter, was on the 
same corridor as mine though at the other end of it near 
the head of a stair that ran I knew not whither. In my 
portmanteau that had been sent over from Miss Man- 
ners' house, amongst other things was a small 
double-barrelled pistol which from long habit I always 
carried with me loaded, except for the caps that were in 
a little leather case with some spare ammunition attached 
to the pistol belt. I took it out, capped it and thrust 
it into my pocket. Then I slipped from the room and 
stood behind a tall clock in the corridor, watching Miss 
Holmes's door and reflecting what a fool I should look 
if anyone chanced to find me. 

Half an hour or so later by the light of the setting 
moon which struggled through a window, I saw the 
door open and Miss Holmes emerge wrapped in a kind 
of dressing-gown and still wearing the necklace which 
Harut and Marut had given her. Of this I was sure for 
the light gleamed upon the red stones. 

Also it shone upon her face and showed me without 
doubt that she was walking in her sleep. 

Gliding silently as a ghost she crossed the corridor 
and vanished. I followed and saw that she had de- 
scended an ancient, twisting stairway which I had 
noted in the castle wall. I went after her, my stock- 
inged feet making no noise, feeling my way carefully 
in the darkness of the stair, for I did not dare to strike 

66 The Ivory Child 

a match. Beneath me I heard a noise as of someone 
fumbling with bolts. Then a door creaked on its hinges 
and there was some light. When I reached the door- 
way I caught sight of the figure of Miss Holmes flitting 
across a hollow garden that was laid out in the bottom 
of the castle moat which had been drained. This 
garden, as I had observed when we walked through it 
on the previous day on our way to the first covert that 
we shot, was bordered by a shrubbery through which 
ran paths that led to the back drive of the castle. 

Across the garden glided the figure of Miss Holmes 
and after it went I, crouching and taking cover behind 
every bush as though I were stalking big game, which 
indeed I was. She entered the shrubbery, moving much 
more swiftly now, for as she went she seemed to gather 
speed, like a stone which is rolled down a hill. It was 
as though whatever might be attracting her, for I felt 
sure she was being drawn by something, acted more 
strongly upon her sleeping will as she drew nearer to it. 
For a while I lost sight of her in the shadow of the tall 
trees. Then suddenly I saw her again, standing quite 
still in an opening caused by the blowing down in the 
gale of one of the avenue of elms that bordered the 
back drive. But now she was no longer alone, for ad- 
vancing towards her were two cloaked figures in whom 
I recognised Harut and Marut. 

There she stood with outstretched arms, and towards 
her, stealthily as lions stalking a buck, came Harut and 
Marut. Moreover, between the naked boughs of the 
fallen elm I caught sight of what looked to me like the 
outline of a closed carriage standing upon the drive. 
Also I heard a horse stamp upon the frosty ground. 
Round the edge of the little glade I ran, keeping in the 
dark shadow, as I went cocking the pistol that was in 
my pocket. Then suddenly I darted out and stood 
between Harfit and Marut and Miss Holmes. 

The Plot 67 

Not a word passed between us. I think that all three 
of us subconsciously were anxious not to awake the 
sleeping woman, knowing that if we did so there would 
be a terrible scene. Only after motioning to me to 
stand aside, of course in vain, Harut and Marut drew 
from their robes curved and cruel-looking knives and 
bowed, for even now their politeness did not forsake 
them. I bowed back and when I straightened myself 
those enterprising Easterns found that I was covering 
the heart of Harut with my pistol. Then with that 
perception which is part of the mental outfit of the great, 
they saw that the game was up since I could have shot 
them both before a knife touched me. 

"You have won this time, O Watcher-by-Night," 
whispered Harut softly, "but another time you will lose. 
That beautiful lady belongs to us and the People of the 
White Kendah, for she is marked with the holy mark 
of the young moon. The call of the Child of Heaven 
is heard in her heart, and will bring her home to the 
Child as it has brought her to us to-night. Now lead 
her hence still sleeping, O brave and clever one, so well 
named Watcher-by-Night." 

Then they were gone and presently I heard the 
sound of horses being driven rapidly along the drive. 

For a moment I had hesitated as to whether I would 
or would not run in and shoot those horses. Two con- 
siderations stayed me. The first was that if I did so 
my pistol would be empty, or even if I shot one horse 
and retained a barrel loaded, with it I could only kill 
a single man, leaving myself defenceless against the 
knife of the other. The second consideration was that 
now as before I did not wish to wake up Miss Holmes. 

I crept to her and not knowing what else to do, took 
hold of one of her outstretched hands. She turned and 
came with me at once as though she knew me, remaining 
all the while fast asleep. Thus we went back to the 

68 The Ivory Child 

house, through the still open door, up the stairway 
straight to her own room, on the threshold of which I 
loosed her hand. The room was dark and I could see 
nothing, but I listened until I heard a sound as of a 
person throwing herself upon the bed and drawing up 
the blankets. Then knowing that she was safe for a 
while, I shut the door, which opened outwards as doors 
of ancient make sometimes do, and set against it a little 
table that stood in the passage. 

Next, after reflecting for a minute, the circumstances 
being awkward in many ways, I went to my room and 
lit a candle. Obviously it was my duty to inform Lord 
Ragnall of what had happened and as soon as possible. 
But I had no idea in what part of that huge building his 
sleeping place might be, nor, for patent reasons, was it 
desirable that I should disturb the house and so create 
talk. In this dilemma I remembered that Lord Rag- 
nail's confidential servant, Mr. Savage, when he con- 
ducted me to my room on the previous night, which he 
made a point of doing perhaps because he wished to 
talk over the matter of the snakes that had found their 
way into his pockets, had shown me a bell in it which 
he said rang outside his door. He called it an 
"emergency bell." I remarked idly that it was im- 
probable I should have any occasion for its use. 

"Who knows, sir?" said Mr. Savage prophetically. 
"There are folk who say that this old castle is haunted, 
which after what I have seen to-night I can well believe. 
If you should chance to meet a ghost looking, let us 
say, like those black villains, Harum and Scarum, or 
whatever they call themselves well, sir, two's better 
company than one." 

I considered that bell but was loath to ring it for the 
reasons I have given. Then I went outside the room 
and looked. As I had hoped might be the case, there 
ran the wire on the face of the wall connected along 

The Plot 69 

its length by other wires with the various rooms it 

I set to work and followed that wire. It was not an 
easy job; indeed once or twice it reminded me of the 
story of the old Greek hero who found his way through 
a labyrinth by means of a silken thread. I forget whether 
it were a bull or a lady he was looking for, but with 
care and perseverance he found one or the other, or it 
may have been both. 

Down staircases and various passages I went with my 
eye glued upon the wire, which occasionally got mixed 
up with other wires, till at length it led me through a 
swing door covered with red baize into what appeared 
to be a modern annexe to the castle. Here at last it 
terminated on the spring of an alarming-looking and 
deep-throated bell that hung immediately over a certain 

On this door I knocked, hoping that it might be 
that of Mr. Savage and praying earnestly that it did 
not enclose the chaste resting-place of the cook or 
any other female. Too late, I mean after I had knocked, 
it occurred to me that if so my position would be painful 
to a degree. However in this particular Fortune stood 
my friend, which does not always happen to the 
virtuous. For presently I heard a voice which I re- 
cognised as that of Mr. Savage, asking, not without a 
certain quaver in its tone, 

" Who the devil is that ? " 

"Me," I replied, being flustered. 

' Me ' won't do," said the voice. ' Me' might be 
Harum, or it might be Scarum, or it might be someone 
worse. Who's 'Me'?" 

"Allan Quatermain, you idiot," I whispered through 
the keyhole. 

"Anna who? Well, never mind. Go away, Hanna. 
I'll talk to you in the morning." 

70 The Ivory Child 

Then I kicked the door, and at length, very 
cautiously, Mr. Savage opened it. 

"Good heavens, sir," he said, "what are you doing 
here, sir? Dressed too, at this hour, and with the 
handle of a pistol sticking out of your pocket or is it 
the head of a snake ? " and he jumped back, a strange 
and stately figure in a long white night-shirt which 
apparently he wore over his underclothing. 

I entered the room and shut the door, whereon he 
politely handed me a chair, remarking, 

"Is it ghosts, sir, or are you ill, or is it Harum 
and Scarum, of whom I have been thinking all night? 
Very cold too, sir, being afraid to pull up the bedclothes 
for fear lest there might be more reptiles in them." 
He pointed to his dress-coat hanging on the back of 
another chair with both the pockets turned inside out, 
adding tragically, "To think, sir, that this new coat 
has been a nest of snakes, which I have hated like 
poison from a child, and me almost a teetotaller ! " 

"Yes," I said impatiently, "it's Harum and Scarum 
as you call them. Take me to Lord Ragnall's bedroom 
at once." 

"Ah! sir, burgling, I suppose, or mayhap worse," 
he exclaimed as he threw on some miscellaneous gar- 
ments and seized a life-preserver which hung upon 
a hook. "Now I'm ready, only I hope they have 
left their snakes behind. I never could bear the 
sight of a snake, and they seem to know it the 

In due course we reached Lord Ragnall's room, 
which Mr. Savage entered, and in answer to a stifled 
inquiry exclaimed, 

"Mr. Allan Quatermain to sec you, my lord." 

"What is it, Quatermain?" he asked, sitting up in 
bed and yawning. "Have you had a nightmare?" 

"Yes," I answered, and Savage having left us and 

The Plot 71 

shut the door, I told him everything as it is written 

"Great heavens ! " he exclaimed when I had finished. 
"If it had not been for you and your intuition and 
courage " 

"Never mind me," I interrupted. "The question 
is what should be done now? Are you going to try 
to arrest these men, or will you hold your tongue 
and merely cause them to be watched ? " 

"Really I don't know. Even if we can catch them 
the whole story would sound so strange in a law-court, 
and all sorts of things might be suggested." 

"Yes, Lord Ragnall, it would sound so strange that 
I beg you will come at once to see the evidences of 
what I tell you, before rain or snow obliterates them, 
bringing another witness with you. Lady Longden, 

" Lady Longden ! Why one might as well write 
to The Times. I have itl There's Savage. He is 
faithful and can be silent." 

So Savage was called in and, while Lord Ragnall 
dressed himself hurriedly, told the outline of the story 
under pain of instant dismissal if he breathed a word. 
Really to watch his face was as good as a play. So 
astonished was he that all he could ejaculate was 

"The black-hearted villains I Well, they ain't 
friendly with snakes for nothing." 

Then having made sure that Miss Holmes was still 
in her room, we went down the twisting stair and 
through the side doorway, locking the door after us. 
By now the dawn was breaking and there was enough 
light to enable me in certain places where the snow 
that fell after the gale remained, to show Lord Ragnall 
and Savage the impress of the little bedroom slippers 
which Miss Holmes wore, and of my stockinged feet 
following after. 

72 The Ivory Child 

In the plantation things were still easier, for every 
detail of the movements of the four of us could be 
traced. Moreover, on the back drive was the spoor 
of the horses and the marks of the wheels of the carriage 
that had been brought for the purposes of the abduction. 
Also by great good fortune, for this seemed to prove 
my theory, we found a parcel wrapped in native linen 
that appeared to have fallen out of the carriage when 
Harut and MarOt made their hurried escape, as one 
of the wheels had gone over it. It contained an Eastern 
woman's dress and veil, intended, I suppose, to be 
used in disguising Miss Holmes, who thenceforward 
would have appeared to be the wife or daughter of 
one of the abductors. 

Savage discovered this parcel, which he lifted only 
to drop it with a yell, for underneath it lay a torpid 
snake, doubtless one of those that had been used in 
the performance. 

Of these discoveries and many other details, on our 
return to the house, Lord Ragnall made full notes in 
a pocket-book, that when completed were signed by all 
three of us. 

There is not much more to tell, that is of this part of 
the story. The matter was put in the hands of detectives 
who discovered that the Easterns had driven to London, 
where all trace of the carriage which conveyed them 
was lost. They, however, embarked upon a steamer 
called the Antelope, together with two native women, 
who probably had been provided to look after 
Miss Holmes, and sailed that very afternoon for 
Egypt. Thither, of course, it was useless to follow 
them in those days, even if it had been advisable to 
do so. 

To return to Miss Holmes. She came down to 
breakfast looking very charming but rather pale. Again 

The Plot 73 

I sat next to her and took some opportunity to ask 
her how she had rested that night. 

She replied, Very well and yet very ill, since, 
although she never remembered sleeping more soundly 
in her life, she had experienced all sorts of queer 
dreams of which she could remember nothing at all, 
a circumstance that annoyed her much, as she was 
sure that they were most interesting. Then she added, 

"Do you know, Mr. Quatermain, I found a lot of 
mud on my dressing-gown this morning, and my 
bedroom slippers were also a mass of mud and wet 
through. How do you account for that? It is just 
as though I had been walking about outside in my 
sleep, which is absurd, as I never did such a thing in 
my life." 

Not feeling equal to the invention of any convincing 
explanation of these phenomena, I upset the marmalade 
pot on to the table in such a way that some of it fell 
upon her dress, and then covered my retreat with 
profuse apologies. Understanding my dilemma, for 
he had heard something of this talk, Lord Ragnall 
came to my aid with a startling statement of which I 
forget the purport, and thus that crisis passed. 

Shortly after breakfast Scroope announced to Miss 
Manners that her carriage was waiting, and we de- 
parted. Before I went, as it chanced, I had a few 
private words with my host, with Miss Holmes and 
with the magnificent Mr. Savage. To the last, by 
the way, I offered a tip which he refused, saying that 
after all we had gone through together he could not 
allow "money to come between us," by which he meant, 
to pass from my pocket to his. Lord Ragnall asked 
me for both my English and my African addresses, 
which he noted in his pocket-book. Then he said, 

"Really, Quatermain, I feel as though I had known 
you for years instead of three days; if you will allow 

74 The Ivory Child 

me I will add that I should like to know a great deal 
more of you." (He was destined to do so, poor fellow, 
though neither of us guessed it at the time.) "If ever 
you come to England again I hope you will make 
this house your head-quarters." 

"And if ever you come to South Africa, Lord Rag- 
nail, I hope you will make my four-roomed shanty on 
the Berea at Durban your head-quarters. You will get 
a hearty welcome there and something to eat, but little 

"There is nothing I should like better, Quatermain. 
Circumstances have put me in a certain position in this 
country, still to tell you the truth there is a great deal 
about the life of which I grow very tired. But you see 
I am going to be married, and that I fear means an end 
of travelling, since naturally my wife will wish to take 
her place in society and the rest." 

"Of course," I replied, "for it is not every young 
lady who has the luck to become an English peeress 
with all the etceteras, is it ? Still I am not so sure but 
that Miss Holmes will take to travelling some day, 
although I am sure that she would do better to stay at 

He looked at me curiously, then asked, 

"You don't think there is anything really serious in 
all this business, do you?" 

"I don't know what to think," I answered, "except 
that you will do well to keep a good eye upon your wife. 
What those Easterns tried to do last night and, I think, 
years ago, they may try again soon, or years hence, for 
evidently they are patient and determined men with 
much to win. Also it is a curious coincidence that she 
should have that mark upon her which appeals so 
strongly to Messrs. Harut and Marat, and, to be brief, 
she is in some ways different from most young women. 
As she said to me herself last night, Lord Ragnall, we 

The Plot 75 

are surrounded by mysteries; mysteries of blood, of 
inherited spirit, of this world generally in which it is 
probable that we are all descended from quite a few 
common ancestors. And beyond these are other mys- 
teries of the measureless universe to which we belong, 
that may already be exercising their strong and secret 
influences upon us, as perhaps, did we know it, they 
have done for millions of years in the Infinite whence 
we came and whither we go." 

I suppose I spoke somewhat solemnly, for he said, 

"Do you know you frighten me a little, though I 
don't quite understand what you mean." 

Then we parted. 

With Miss Holmes my conversation was shorter. 
She remarked, 

"It has been a great pleasure to me to meet you. I 
do not remember anybody with whom I have found 
myself in so much sympathy except one of course. It 
is strange to think that when we meet again I shall be 
a married woman." 

"I do not suppose we shall ever meet again, Miss 
Holmes. Your life is here, mine is in the wildest places 
of a wild land far away." 

"Oh 1 yes, we shall," she answered. "I learned this 
and lots of other things when I held my head in that 
smoke last night." 

Then we also parted. 

Lastly Mr. Savage arrived with my coat. "Good- 
bye, Mr. Quatermain," he said. "If I forget everything 
else I shall never forget you and those villains, Harum 
and Scarum and their snakes. I hope it won't be my lot 
ever to clap eyes on them again, Mr. Quatermain, and 
yet somehow I don't feel so sure of that." 

"Nor do I," I replied with a kind of inspiration, after 
which followed the episode of the rejected tip. 



FULLY two years had gone by since I bade farewell to 
Lord Ragnall and Miss Holmes, and when the curtain 
draws up again behold me seated on the stoep of my 
little house at Durban, plunged in reflection and very 
sad indeed. Why I was sad I will explain presently. 

In that interval of time I had heard once or twice 
about Lord Ragnall. Thus I received from Scroope a 
letter telling of his lordship's marriage with Miss 
Holmes, which, it appeared, had been a very fine affair 
indeed, quite one of the events of the London season. 
Two Royalties attended the ceremony, a duke was the 
best man, and the presents according to all accounts 
were superb and of great value, including a priceless 
pearl necklace given by the bridegroom to the bride. 
A cutting from a society paper which Scroope enclosed 
dwelt at length upon the splendid appearance of the 
bridegroom and the sweet loveliness of the bride. Also 
it described her dress in language which was Greek to 
me. One sentence, however, interested me intensely. 

It ran : "The bride occasioned some comment by 
wearing only one ornament, although the Ragnall 
family diamonds, which have not seen the light for 
many years, are known to be some of the finest in the 
country. It was a necklace of what appeared to be 
large but rather roughly polished rubies, to which 
hung a small effigy of an Egyptian god also fashioned 
from a ruby. It must be added that although of an 
unusual nature on such an occasion this jewel suited 


The Bona Fide Gold Mine 77 

her dark beauty well. Lady Ragnall's selection of 
it, however, from the many she possesses was the cause 
of much speculation. When asked by a friend why 
she had chosen it, she is reported to have said that 
it was to bring her good fortune." 

Now why did she wear the barbaric marriage gift 
of Harut and Marut in preference to all the other gems 
at her disposal, I wondered. The thing was so strange 
as to be almost uncanny. 

The second piece of information concerning this pair 
reached me through the medium of an old Times news- 
paper which I received over a year later. It was to the 
effect that a son and heir had been born to Lord Ragnall 
and that both mother and child were doing well. 

So there's the end to a very curious little story, 
thought I to myself. 

Well, during those two years many things befell me. 
First of all, in company with my old friend Sir Stephen 
Somers, I made the expedition to Pongoland in search 
of the wonderful orchid which he desired to add to his 
collection. I have already written of that journey and 
our extraordinary adventures, and need therefore allude 
to it no more here, except to say that during the course 
of it I was sorely tempted to travel to the territory north 
of the lake in which the Pongos dwelt. Much did I 
desire to see whether Messrs. Harut and Marut would 
in truth appear to conduct me to the land where the 
wonderful elephant which was supposed to be animated 
by an evil spirit was waiting to be killed by my rifle. 
However, I resisted the impulse, as indeed our circum- 
stances obliged me to do. In the end we returned safely 
to Durban, and here I came to the conclusion that never 
again would I risk my life on such mad expeditions. 

Owing to circumstances which I have detailed else- 
where I was now in possession of a considerable sum 

78 The Ivory Child 

of cash, and this I determined to lay out in such a 
fashion as to make me independent of hunting and 
trading in the wilder regions of Africa. As usual when 
money is forthcoming, an opportunity soon presented 
itself in the shape of a gold mine which had been dis- 
covered on the borders of Zululand, one of the first that 
was ever found in those districts. A Jew trader named 
Jacob brought it to my notice and offered me a half 
share if I would put up the capital necessary to work 
the mine. I made a journey of inspection and con- 
vinced myself that it was indeed a wonderful proposi- 
tion. I need not enter into particulars nor, to tell 
the truth, have I any desire to do so for the subject 
is still painful to me, further than to say that this 
Jew and some friends of his panned out visible gold 
before my eyes and then revealed to me the mag- 
nificent quartz reef from which, as they demonstrated, 
it had been washed in the bygone ages of the world. 
The news of our discovery spread like wildfire, and 
as, whatever else I might be, everyone knew that I was 
honest, in the end a small company was formed with 
Allan Quatermain, Esq., as the chairman of the Bona 
Fide Gold Mine, Limited. 

Oh ! that company ! Often to this day I dream of 
it when I have indigestion. 

Our capital was small, ^"10,000, of which the 
Jew, who was well named Jacob, and his friends took 
half (for nothing of course) as the purchase price of their 
rights. I thought the proportion large and said so, 
especially after I had ascertained that those rights had 
cost them exactly three dozen of square-face gin, a 
broken-down wagon, four old cows past the bearing 
age and ,5 in cash. However, when it was pointed out 
to me that by their peculiar knowledge and genius they 
had located and proved the value of a property of 
enormous potential worth, moreover that this sum was 

The Bona Fide Gold Mine 79 

to be paid to them in scrip which would only be realis- 
able when success was assured and not in money, after 
a night of anxious consideration I gave way. 

Personally, before I consented to accept the chair- 
manship, which carried with it a salary of ;ioo a 
year (which I never got), I bought and paid for 
in cash, shares to the value of ,1,000 sterling. 
I remember that Jacob and his friends seemed sur- 
prised at this act of mine, as they had offered to give 
me five hundred of their shares for nothing "in con- 
sideration of the guarantee of my name." These I 
refused, saying that I would not ask others to invest in 
a venture in which I had no actual money stake; 
whereon they accepted my decision, not without 

In the end the balance of ,4,000 was sub- 
scribed and we got to work. Work is a good name 
for it so far as I was concerned, for never in all my 
days have I gone through so harrowing a time. 

We began by washing a certain patch of gravel and 
obtained results which seemed really astonishing. So 
remarkable were they that on publication the shares rose 
to IDS. premium. Jacob and Co. took advantage 
of this opportunity to sell quite half of their bonus 
holding to eager applicants, explaining to me that they 
did so not for personal profit, which they scorned, but 
"to broaden the basis of the undertaking by admitting 
fresh blood." 

It was shortly after this boom that the gravel sur- 
rounding the rich patch became very gravelly indeed, 
and it was determined that we should buy a small battery 
and begin to crush the quartz from which the gold was 
supposed to flow in a Pactolian stream. We negotiated 
for that battery through a Cape Town firm of engineers 
but why follow the melancholy business in all its 
details ? The shares began to decrease in value. They 

80 The Ivory Child 

shrank to their original price of \, then to 155., then 
to IQS. Jacob, he was managing director, explained to 
me that it was necessary to "support the market," as he 
was already doing to an enormous extent, and that I as 
chairman ought to take a "lead in this good work" in 
order to show my faith in the concern. 

I took a lead to the extent of another ^500, 
which was all that I could afford. I admit that it 
was a shock to such trust in human nature as remained 
to me when I discovered subsequently that the 1,000 
shares which I bought for my ^500 had really been 
the property of Jacob, although they appeared to be 
sold to me in various other names. 

The crisis came at last, for before that battery was 
delivered our available funds were exhausted, and no one 
would subscribe another halfpenny. Debentures, it is 
true, had been issued and taken up to the extent of 
about ;i,ooo out of the ,5,000 offered, though who 
bought them remained at the time a mystery to me. 
Ultimately a meeting was called to consider the question 
of liquidating the company, and at this meeting, after 
three sleepless nights, I occupied the chair. 

When I entered the room, to my amazement I found 
that of the five directors only one was present besides 
myself, an honest old retired sea captain who had 
bought and paid for 300 shares. Jacob and the 
two friends who represented his interests had, it 
appeared, taken ship that morning for Cape Town, 
whither they were summoned to attend various relatives 
who had been seized with illness. 

It was a stormy meeting at first. I explained the 
position to the best of my ability, and when I had 
finished was assailed with a number of questions which 
I could not answer to the satisfaction of myself or of any- 
body else. Then a gentleman, the owner of ten shares, 
who had evidently been drinking, suggested in plain 

The Bona Fide Gold Mine 81 

language that I had cheated the shareholders by issuing 
false reports. 

I jumped up in a fury and, although he was twice my 
size, asked him to come and argue the question outside, 
whereon he promptly went away. This incident excited 
a laugh, and then the whole truth came out. A man 
with coloured blood in him stood up and told a story 
which was subsequently proved to be true. Jacob had 
employed him to "salt" the mine by mixing a heavy 
sprinkling of gold in the gravel we had first washed 
(which the coloured man swore he did in innocence), 
and subsequently had defrauded him of his wages. 
That was all. I sank back in my chair overcome. Then 
some good fellow in the audience, who had lost money 
himself in the affair and whom I scarcely knew, got up 
and made a noble speech which went far to restore my 
belief in human nature. 

He said in effect that it was well known that I, Allan 
Quatermain, after working like a horse in the interests 
of the shareholders, had practically ruined myself over 
this enterprise, and that the real thief was Jacob, who 
had made tracks for the Cape, taking with him a large 
cash profit resulting from the sale of shares. Finally he 
concluded by calling for "three cheers for our honest 
friend and fellow sufferer, Mr. Allan Quatermain." 

Strange to say the audience gave them very heartily 
indeed. I thanked them with tears in my eyes, saying 
that I was glad to leave the room as poor as I had ever 
been, but with a reputation which my conscience as 
well as their kindness assured me was quite unblemished. 

Thus the winding-up resolution was passed and that 
meeting came to an end. After shaking hands with my 
deliverer from a most unpleasant situation, I walked 
homewards with the lightest heart in the world. My 
money was gone, it was true; also my over-confidence 
in others had led me to make a fool of myself by accept- 

82 The Ivory Child 

ing as fact, on what I believed to be the evidence of my 
eyes, that which I had not sufficient expert knowledge 
to verify. But my honour was saved, and as I have 
again and again seen in the course of life, money is 
nothing when compared with honour, a remark which 
Shakespeare made long ago, though like many other 
truths this is one of which a full appreciation can only 
be gained by personal experience. 

Not very far from the place where our meeting had 
been held I passed a side street then in embryo, for it 
had only one or two houses situated in their gardens 
and a rather large and muddy sluit of water running 
down one side at the edge of the footpath. Save for 
two people this street was empty, but that pair attracted 
my attention. They were a white man, in whom I recog- 
nised the stout and half-intoxicated individual who had 
accused me of cheating the company and then departed, 
and a withered old Hottentot who at that distance, 
nearly a hundred yards away, much reminded me of a 
certain Hans. 

This Hans, I must explain, was originally a servant 
of my father, who was a missionary in the Cape Colony, 
and had been my companion in many adventures. Thus 
in my youth he and I alone escaped when Dingaan 
murdered Retief and his party of Boers,* and he had 
been one of my party in our quest for the wonderful 
orchid, the record of which I have written down in 
"The Holy Flower." 

Hans had his weak points, among which must be 
counted his love of liquor, but he was a gallant and 
resourceful old fellow as indeed he had amply proved 
upon that orchid-seeking expedition. Moreover he 
loved me with a love passing the love of women. Now, 
having acquired some money in a way I need not stop 

* See the book called " Marie." EDITOR. 

The Bona Fide Gold Mine 83 

to describe for is it not written elsewhere ? he was 
settled as a kind of little chief on a farm not very far 
from Durban, where he lived in great honour because 
of the fame of his deeds. 

The white man and Hans, if Hans it was, were 
engaged in violent altercation whereof snatches floated 
to me on the breeze, spoken in the Dutch tongue. 

"You dirty little Hottentot ! " shouted the white man, 
waving a stick, "I'll cut the liver out of you. What do 
you mean by nosing about after me like a jackal ? " 
And he struck at Hans, who jumped aside. 

"Son of a fat white sow," screamed Hans in answer 
(for the moment I heard his voice I knew that it was 
Hans), "did you dare to call the Baas a thief? Yes, a 
thief, O Rooter in the mud, O Feeder on filth and 
worms, O Hog of the gutter the Baas, the clipping of 
whose nail is worth more than you and all your family, 
he whose honour is as clear as the sunlight and whose 
heart is cleaner than the white sand of the sea." 

"Yes, I did," roared the white man; "for he got my 
money in the gold mine." 

"Then, hog, why did you run away? Why did 
you not wait to tell him so outside that house ? " 

"I'll teach you about running away, you little yellow 
dog," replied the other, catching Hans a cut across the 

" Oh ! you want to see me run, do you ? " said Hans, 
skipping back a few ^ards with wonderful agility. 
"Then look 1" 

Thus speaking he lowered his head and charged like 
a buffalo. Fair in the middle he caught that white man, 
causing him to double up, fly backwards and land with 
a most resounding splash in the deepest part of the 
muddy sluit. Here I may remark that, as his shins are 
the weakest, a Hottentot's head is by far the hardest 
and most dangerous part of him. Indeed it seems to 

84 The Ivory Child 

partake of the nature of a cannon ball, for, without more 
than temporary disturbance to its possessor, I have seen 
a half-loaded wagon go over one of them on a muddy 

Having delivered this home thrust Hans bolted 
round a corner and disappeared, while I waited 
trembling to see what happened to his adversary. To 
my relief nearly a minute later he crept out of the sluit 
coated with mud and dripping with water and hobbled 
off slowly down the street, his head so near his feet that 
he looked as though he had been folded in two, and his 
hands pressed upon what I believe is medically known 
as the diaphragm. Then I also went upon my way 
roaring with laughter. Often I have heard Hotten- 
tots called the lowest of mankind, but, reflected I, 
they can at any rate be good friends to those who treat 
them well a fact of which I was to have further proof 
ere long. 

By the time I reached my house and had filled my 
pipe and sat myself down in the dilapidated cane chair 
on the verandah, that natural reaction set in which so 
often follows rejoicing at the escape from a great danger. 
It was true that no one believed I had cheated them 
over that thrice-accursed gold mine, but how about 
other matters? 

I mused upon the Bible narrative of Jacob and Esau 
with a new and very poignant sympathy for Esau. I 
wondered what would become of my Jacob. Jacob, I 
mean the original, prospered exceedingly as a result 
of his deal in porridge, and, so thought I, probably 
would his artful descendant who so appropriately bore 
his name. As a matter of fact I do not know what 
became of him, but bearing his talents in mind I think 
it probable that, like Van Koop, under some other 
patronymic he has now been rewarded with a title by 
the British Government. At any rate I had eaten the 

The Bona Fide Gold Mine 85 

porridge in the shape of worthless but dearly purchased 
shares, after labouring hard at the chase of the golden 
calf, while brother Jacob had got my inheritance, or 
rather my money. Probably he was now counting it 
over in sovereigns upon the ship and sniggering as he 
thought of the shareholders' meeting with me in the 
chair. Well, he was a thief and would run his road to 
whatever nd is appointed for thieves, so why should 
I bother my head more about him ? As I had kept my 
honour let him take my savings. 

But I had a son to support, and now what was I to 
do with scarcely three hundred pounds, a good stock 
of guns and this little Durban property left to me in 
the world? Commerce in all its shapes I renounced 
once and for ever. It was too high or too low for 
me; so it would seem that there remained to me only 
my old business of professional hunting. Once again 
I must seek those adventures which I had forsworn 
when my evil star shone so brightly over a gold mine. 
What was it to be ? Elephants, I supposed, since these 
are the only creatures worth killing from a money point 
of view. But most of my old haunts had been more or 
less shot out. The competition of younger profes- 
sionals, of wandering back-veld Boers and even of 
poaching natives who had obtained guns, was growing 
severe. If I went at all I should have to travel farther 

Whilst I meditated thus, turning over the compara- 
tive advantages or disadvantages of various possible 
hunting grounds in my mind, my attention was caught 
by a kind of cough that seemed to proceed from the 
farther side of a large gardenia bush. It was not a 
human cough, but rather resembled that made by a 
certain small buck at night, probably to signal to its 
mate, which of course it could not be as there were no 
buck within several miles. Yet I knew it came from a 

86 The Ivory Child 

human throat, for had I not heard it before in many 
an hour of difficulty and danger? 

"Draw near, Hans," I said in Dutch, and instantly 
out of a clump of aloes that grew in front of the 
pomegranate hedge, crept the withered shape of the old 
Hottentot, as a big yellow snake might do. Why he 
should choose this method of advance instead of that 
offered by the garden path I did not know, but it was 
quite in accordance with his secretive nature, inherited 
from a hundred generations of ancestors who spent their 
lives avoiding the observation of murderous foes. 

He squatted down in front of me, staring in a vacant 
way at the fierce ball of the westering sun without 
blinking an eyelid, just as a vulture does. 

"You look to me as though you had been fighting, 
Hans," I said. "The crown of your hat is knocked out; 
you are splashed with mud and there is the mark of 
a stick upon your left side." 

"Yes, Baas. You are right as usual, Baas. I had 
a quarrel with a man about sixpence that he owed me, 
and knocked him over with my head, forgetting to take 
my hat off first. Therefore it is spoiled, for which I 
am sorry, as it was quite a new hat, not two years old. 
The Baas gave it me. He bought it in a store at 
Utrecht when we were coming back from Pongoland." 

"Why do you lie to me?" I asked. "You have 
been fighting a white man and for more than sixpence. 
You knocked him into a sluit and the mud splashed up 
over you." 

"Yes, Baas, that is so. Your spirit speaks truly to 
you of the matter. Yet it wanders a little from the 
path, since I fought the white man for less than six- 
pence. I fought him for love, which is nothing at all." 

"Then you are even a bigger fool than I took you 
for, Hans. What do you want now?" 

"I want to borrow a pound, Baas. The white man 

The Bona Fide Gold Mine 87 

will take me before the magistrate and I shall be fined 
a pound, or fourteen days in the trunk (i.e. gaol). It is 
true that the white man struck me first, but the magis- 
trate will not believe the word of a poor old Hottentot 
against his, and I have no witness. He will say, ' Hans, 
you were drunk again. Hans, you are a liar and deserve 
to be flogged, which you will be next time. Pay a 
pound and ten shillings more, which is the price of good 
white justice, or go to the trunk for fourteen days and 
make baskets there for the great Queen to use.' Baas, 
I have the price of the justice which is ten shillings, but 
I want to borrow the pound for the fine." 

"Hans, I think that just now you are better able to 
lend me a pound than I am to lend one to you. My 
bag is empty, Hans." 

"Is it so, Baas? Well, it does not matter. If 
necessary I can make baskets for the great white Queen 
to put her food in, for fourteen days, or mats on which 
she will wipe her feet. The trunk is not such a bad 
place, Baas. It gives time to think of the white man's 
justice and to thank the Great One in the Sky, because 
the little sins one did not do have been found out and 
punished, while the big sins one did do, such as well, 
never mind, Baas have not been found out at all. 
Your reverend father, the Predikant, always taught 
me to have a thankful heart, Baas, and when I remember 
that I have only been in the trunk for three months 
altogether who, if all were known, ought to have been 
there for years, I remember his words, Baas." 

"Why should you go to the trunk at all, Hans, when 
you are rich and can pay a fine, even if it were a 
hundred pounds ? " 

"A month or two ago it is true I was rich, Baas, 
but now I am poor. I have nothing left except ten 

"Hans," I said severely, "you have been gambling 

88 The Ivory Child 

again; you have been drinking again. You have sold 
your property and your cattle to pay your gambling 
debts and to buy square-face gin." 

"Yes, Baas, and for no good it seems; though it is 
not true that I have been drinking. I sold the land and 
the cattle for ^650, Baas, and with the money I bought 
other things." 

"What did you buy?" I said. 

He fumbled first in one pocket of his big coat and 
then in the other, and ultimately produced a crumpled 
and dirty-looking piece of paper that resembled a bank- 
note. I took and examined this document and next 
minute nearly fainted. It certified that Hans was the 
proprietor of I know not how many debentures or 
shares, I forget which they were, in the Bona Fide 
Gold Mine, Limited, that same company of which I was 
the unlucky chairman, in consideration for which he 
had paid a sum of over six hundred solid pounds. 

"Hans," I said feebly, "from whom did you buy 

"From the baas with the hooked nose, Baas. He 
who was named Jacob, after the great man in the Bible 
of whom your father, the Predikant, used to tell us, 
that one who was so slim and dressed himself up in a 
goatskin and gave his brother mealie porridge when he 
was hungry, after he had come in from shooting buck, 
Baas, and got his farm and cattle, Baas, and then went 
to Heaven up a ladder, Baas." 

"And who told you to buy them, Hans?" 

"Sammy, Baas, he who was your cook when we 
went to Pongoland, he who hid in the mealie-pit when 
the slavers burned Beza-Town and came out half cooked 
like a fowl from the oven. The Baas Jacob stopped in 
Sammy's hotel, Baas, and told him that unless he 
bought bits of paper like this, of which he had plenty, 
you would be brought before the magistrate and sent 

The Bona Fide Gold Mine 89 

to the trunk, Baas. So Sammy bought some, Baas, but 
not many for he had only a little money, and the Baas 
Jacob paid him for all he ate and drank with other bits 
of paper. Then Sammy came to me and showed me 
what it was my duty to do, reminding me that your 
reverend father, the Predikant, had left you in my 
charge till one of us dies, whether you were well or ill 
and whether you got better or got worse just like a 
white wife, Baas. So I sold the farm and the cattle to 
a friend of the Baas Jacob's, at a very low price, Baas, 
and that is all the story." 

I heard and, to tell the honest truth, almost I wept, 
since the thought of the sacrifice which this poor old 
Hottentot had made for my sake on the instigation of 
a rogue utterly overcame me. 

"Hans," I asked recovering myself, "tell me what 
was that new name which the Zulu captain Mavovo 
gave you before he died, I mean after you had fired 
Beza-Town and caught Hassan and his slavers in their 
own trap ? " 

Hans, who had suddenly found something that in- 
terested him extremely out at sea, perhaps because he 
did not wish to witness my grief, turned round slowly 
and answered : 

"Mavovo named me Light-in-Darkness, and by that 
name the Kafirs know me now, Baas, though some of 
them call me Lord-of-the-Fire." 

"Then Mavovo named you well, for indeed, Hans, 
you shine like a light in the darkness of my heart. I 
whom you think wise am but a fool, Hans, who has 
been tricked by a vernuker, a common cheat, and he 
has tricked you and Sammy as well. But as he has 
shown me that man can be very vile, you have shown 
me that he can be very noble; and, setting the one 
against the other, my spirit that was in the dust rises 
up once more like a withered flower after rain. Light- 

90 The Ivory Child 

in-Darkness, although if I had ten thousand pounds 
I could never pay you back since what you have given 
me is more than all the gold in the world and all the 
land and all the cattle yet with honour and with 
love I will try to pay you," and I held out my hand 
to him. 

He took it and pressed it against his wrinkled old 
forehead, then answered : 

"Talk no more of that, Baas, for it makes me sad, 
who am so happy. How often have you forgiven me 
when I have done wrong? How often have you not 
flogged me when I should have been flogged for being 
drunk and other things yes, even when once I stole 
some of your powder and sold it to buy square-face 
gin, though it is true I knew it was bad powder, not 
fit for you to use? Did I thank you then overmuch? 
Why therefore should you thank me who have done 
but a little thing, not really to help you but because, 
as you know, I love gambling, and was told that this 
bit of paper would soon be worth much more than I 
gave for it. If it had proved so, should I have given 
you that money ? No, I should have kept it myself and 
bought a bigger farm and more cattle." 

" Hans," I said sternly, " if you lie so hard, you will 
certainly go to hell, as the Predikant, my father, often 
told you." 

"Not if I lie for you, Baas, or if I do it doesn't 
matter, except that then we should be separated by the 
big kloof written of in the Book, especially as there I 
should meet the Baas Jacob, as I very much want to 
do for a reason of my own." 

Not wishing to pursue this somewhat unchristian 
line of thought, I inquired of him why he felt happy. 

"Oh! Baas," he answered with a twinkle in his 
little black eyes, "can't you guess why? Now you have 
very little money left and I have none at all. There- 

The Bona Fide Gold Mine 91 

fore it is plain that we must go somewhere to earn 
money, and I am glad of that, Baas, for I am tired 
of sitting on that farm out there and growing mealies 
and milking cows, especially as I am too old to marry, 
Baas, as you are tired of looking for gold where there 
isn't any and singing sad songs in that house of meeting 
yonder like you did this afternoon. Oh ! the Great 
Father in the skies knew what He was about when He 
sent the Baas Jacob our way. He beat us for our good, 
Baas, as He does always if we could only understand." 

I reflected to myself that I had not often heard the 
doctrine of the Church better or more concisely put, 
but I only said : 

"That is true, Hans, and I thank you for the 
lesson, the second you have taught me to-day. But 
where are we to go to, Hans? Remember, it must be 

He suggested some places ; indeed he seemed to have 
come provided with a list of them, and I sat silent mak- 
ing no comment. At length he finished and squatted 
there before me, chewing a bit of tobacco I had given 
him, and looking up at me interrogatively with his head 
on one side, for all the world like a dilapidated and 
inquisitive bird. 

"Hans," I said, "do you remember a story I told 
you when you came to see me a year or more ago, 
about a tribe called the Kendah in whose country there 
is said to be a great cemetery of elephants which travel 
there to die from all the land about? A country that 
lies somewhere to the north-east of the lake island on 
which the Pongo used to dwell ? " 

"Yes, Baas." 

"And you said, I think, that you had never heard of 
such a people." 

"No, Baas, I never said anything at all. I have 
heard a good deal about them." 

92 The Ivory Child 

"Then why did you not tell me so before, you little 
idiot?" I asked indignantly. 

"What was the good, Baas? You were hunting 
gold then, not ivory. Why should I make you unhappy 
and waste my own breath by talking about beautiful 
things which were far beyond the reach of either of us, 
far as that sky ? " 

"Don't ask fool's questions but tell me what you 
know, Hans. Tell me at once." 

"This, Baas: When we were up at Beza-Town 
after we came back from killing the gorilla-god, and the 
Baas Stephen your friend lay sick, and there was nothing 
else to do, I talked with everyone I could find worth 
talking to, and they were not many, Baas. But there 
was one very old woman who was not of the Mazitu 
race and whose husband and children were all dead, 
but whom the people in the town looked up to and 
feared because she was wise and made medicines out of 
herbs, and told fortunes. I used to go to see her. She 
was quite blind, Baas, and fond of talking with me 
which shows how wise she was. I told her all about the 
Pongo gorilla-god, of which already she knew some- 
thing. When I had done she said that he was as nothing 
compared with a certain god that she had seen in her 
youth, seven tens of years ago, when she became mar- 
riageable. I asked her for that story, and she spoke it 
thus : 

" Far away to the north and east live a people called 
the Kendah, who are ruled over by a sultan. They are 
a very great people and inhabit a most fertile country. 
But all round their country the land is desolate and 
manless, peopled only by game, for the reason that they 
will suffer none to dwell there. That is why nobody 
knows anything about them ; he that comes across the 
wilderness into that land is killed and never returns to 
tell of it. 

The Bona Fide Gold Mine 93 

"She told me also that she was born of this people, 
but fled 'because their sultan wished to place her in his 
house of women, which she did not desire. For a long 
while she wandered southwards, living on roots and 
berries, till she came to desert land and at last, worn 
out, lay down to die. Then she was found by some of 
the Mazitu who were on an expedition seeking ostrich 
feathers for war-plumes. They gave her food and, 
seeing that she was fair, brought her back to their 
country, where one of them married her. 

"But of her own land she uttered only lying words 
to them because she feared that if she told the truth 
the gods who guard its secrets would be avenged on 
her, though now when she was near to death she dreaded 
them no more, since even the Kendah gods cannot swim 
through the waters of death. That is all she said about 
her journey because she had forgotten the rest." 

"Bother her journey, Hans. What did she say 
about her god and the Kendah people ? " 

"This, Baas: that the Kendah have not one god 
but two, and not one ruler but two. They have a good 
god who is a child-fetish " (here I started) "that speaks 
through the mouth of an oracle who is always a woman. 
If that woman dies the god does not speak until they 
find another woman bearing certain marks which show 
that she holds the spirit of the god. Before the woman 
dies she always tells the priests in what land they are 
to look for her who is to come after her; but sometimes 
they cannot find her and then trouble falls because ' the 
Child has lost its tongue,' and the people become the 
prey of the other god that never dies." 

" And what is that god, Hans ? " 

"That god, Baas, is an elephant" (here I started 
again), "a very bad elephant to which human sacrifice 
is offered. I think, Baas, that it is the devil wearing 
the shape of an elephant, at least that is what she said. 

94 The Ivory Child 

Now the sultan is a worshipper of the god that dwells 
in the elephant Jana " (here I positively whistled) "and 
so are most of the people, indeed all those among them 
who are black. For once far away in the beginning the 
Kendah were two peoples, but the lighter-coloured 
people who worship the Child came down from the north 
and conquered the black people, bringing the Child 
with them, or so I understood her, Baas, thousands and 
thousands of years ago when the world was young. 
Since then they have flowed on side by side like two 
streams in the same channel, never mixing, for each 
keeps its own colour. Only, she said, that stream which 
comes from the north grows weaker and that from the 
south more strong." 

"Then why does not the strong swallow up the 

"Because the weak are still the pure and the wise, 
Baas, or so the old vrouw declared. Because they 
worship the good while the others worship the devil, 
and as your father the Predikant used to say, Good is 
the cock which always wins the fight at the last, Baas. 
Yes, when he seems to be dead he gets up again and 
kicks the devil in the stomach and stands on him and 
crows, Baas. Also these northern folk are mighty 
magicians. Through their Child-fetish they give rain 
and fat seasons and keep away sickness, whereas Jana 
gives only evil gifts that have to do with cruelty and 
war and so forth. Lastly, the priests who rule through 
the Child have the secrets of wealth and ancient know- 
ledge, whereas the sultan and his followers have only 
the might of the spear. This was the song which the 
old woman sang to me, Baas." 

"Why did you not tell me of these matters when we 
were at Beza-Town and I could have talked with her 
myself, Hans?" 

" For two reasons, Baas. The first was that I feared, 

The Bona Fide Gold Mine 95 

if I told you, you would wish to go on to find these 
people, whereas I was tired of travelling and wanted to 
come to Natal to rest. The second was that on the 
night when the old woman finished telling me her story, 
she was taken sick and died, and therefore it would 
have been no use to bring you to see her. So I saved 
it up in my head until it was wanted. Moreover, Baas, 
all the Mazitu declared that old woman to be the greatest 
of liars." 

"She was not altogether a liar, Hans. Hear what 
I have learned," and I told him of the magic of Harut 
and Marut and of the picture that I had seemed to see 
of the elephant Jana and of the prayer that Harut and 
Marut had made to me, to all of which he listened quite 
stolidly. It is not easy to astonish a Hottentot's brain, 
which often draws no accurate dividing-line between the 
possible and what the modern world holds to be 

"Yes, Baas," he said when I had finished, "then it 
seems that the old woman was not such a liar after all. 
Baas, when shall we start after that hoard of dead ivory, 
and which way will you go ? By Kilwa or through 
Zululand? It should be settled soon because of the 

After this we talked together for a long while, for 
with pockets as empty as mine were then, the problem 
seemed difficult, if not insoluble. 


THAT night Hans slept at my house, or rather outside 
of it in the garden, or upon the stoep, saying that he 
feared arrest if he went to the town, because of his 
quarrel with the white man. As it happened, however, 
the other party concerned never stirred further in the 
business, probably because he was too drunk to remem- 
ber who had knocked him into the sluit or whether he 
had gravitated thither by accident. 

On the following morning we renewed our discus- 
sion, debating in detail every possible method of reach- 
ing the Kendah people by help of such means as we 
could command. Like that of the previous night it 
proved somewhat abortive. Obviously such a long and 
hazardous expedition ought to be properly financed and 
where was the money ? At length I came to the con- 
clusion that if we went at all it would be best, in the 
circumstances, for Hans and myself to start alone with 
a Scotch cart drawn by oxen and driven by a couple of 
Zulu hunters, which we could lade with ammunition and 
a few necessaries. 

Thus lightly equipped we might work through Zulu- 
land and thence northward to Beza-Town, the capital 
of the Mazitu, where we were sure of a welcome. After 
that we must take our chance. It was probable that we 
should never reach the district where these Kendah were 
supposed to dwell, but at least I might be able to kill 
some elephants in the wild country beyond Zululand. 

While we were talking I heard the gun fired which 
announced the arrival of the English mail, and stepping 


Lord RagnalPs Story 97 

to the end of the garden, saw the steamer lying at anchor 
outside the bar. Then I went indoors to write a few 
business letters which, since I became immersed in the 
affairs of that unlucky gold mine, had grown to be 
almost a daily task with me. I had got through several 
with many groanings, for none were agreeable in their 
tenour, when Hans poked his head through the window 
in a silent kind of a way as a big snake might do, and 
said : " Baas, I think there are two baases out on the 
road there who are looking for you. Very fine baases 
whom I don't know." 

"Shareholders in the Bona Fide Gold Mine," 
thought I to myself, then added as I prepared to leave 
through the back door : " If they come here tell them 
I am not at home. Tell them I left early this morning 
for the Congo River to look for the sources of the Nile." 

"Yes, Baas," said Hans, collapsing on to the stoep. 

I went out through the back door, sorrowing that I, 
Allan Quatermain, should have reached a rung in the 
ladder of life whence I shrank from looking any 
stranger in the face, for fear of what he might have to 
say to me. Then suddenly my pride asserted itself. 
After all what was there of which I should be ashamed ? 
I would face these irate shareholders as I had faced 
the others yesterday. 

I walked round the little house to the front garden 
which was planted with orange trees, and up to a big 
moonflower bush, I believe datura is its right name, 
that grew near the pomegranate hedge which separated 
my domain from the road. There a conversation was 
in progress, if so it may be called . 

"Ikona" (that is: "I don't know"), "Inkoosi" (i.e. 
"Chief"), said some Kafir in a stupid drawl. 

Thereon a voice that instantly struck me as familiar, 
answered : 

" We want to know where the great hunter lives." 

9 8 The Ivory Child 

"Ikona," said the Kafir. 

"Can't you remember his native name?" asked 
another voice which was also familiar to me, for I never 
forget voices though often I am unable to place them 
at once. 

"The great hunter, Here-come-a-zany," said the first 
voice triumphantly, and instantly there flashed back 
upon my mind a vision of the splendid drawing-room at 
Ragnall Castle and of an imposing major-domo intro- 
ducing into it two white-robed, Arab-looking men. 

"Mr. Savage, by the Heavens!" I muttered. 
"What in the name of goodness is he doing here?" 

"There," said the second voice, "your black friend 
has bolted, and no wonder, for who can be called by 
such a name? If you had done what I told you, 
Savage, and hired a white guide, it would have saved 
us a lot of trouble. Why will you always think that you 
know better than anyone else ? " 

"Seemed an unnecessary expense, my lord, consider- 
ing we are travelling incog., my lord." 

"How long shall we travel ' incog.' if you persist in 
calling me my lord at the top of your voice, Savage? 
There is a house beyond those trees; go in and ask 
where " 

By this time I had reached the gate which I opened, 
remarking quietly, 

" How do you do, Lord Ragnall ? How do you do, 
Mr. Savage ? I thought that I recognised your voices 
on the road and came to see if I was right. Please walk 
in; that is, if it is I whom you wish to visit." 

As I spoke I studied them both, and observed 
that while Savage looked much the same, although 
slightly out of place in these strange surroundings, the 
time that had passed since we met had changed Lord 
Ragnall a good deal. He was still a magnificent-look- 
ing man, one of those whom no one that had seen him 

Lord RagnalPs Story 99 

would ever forget, but now his handsome face was 
stamped with some new seal of suffering. I felt at once 
that he had become acquainted with grief. The shadow 
in his dark eyes and a certain worn expression about the 
mouth told me that this was so. 

"Yes, Quatermain," he said as he took my hand, "it 
is you whom I have travelled seven thousand miles to 
visit, and I thank God that I have been so fortunate as 
to find you. I feared lest you might be dead, or per- 
haps far away in the centre of Africa where I should 
never be able to track you down." 

" A week later perhaps you would not have found me, 
Lord Ragnall," I answered, "but as it happens misfor- 
tune has kept me here." 

"And misfortune has brought me here, Quatermain." 

Then before I had time to answer Savage came up 
and we went into the house. 

"You are just in time for lunch," I said, "and as 
luck will have it there is a good rock cod and a leg of 
oribe* buck for you to eat. Boy, set two more places." 

"One more place, if you please, sir," said Savage. 
"I should prefer to take my food afterwards." 

"You will have to get over that in Africa," I mut- 
tered. Still I let him have his way, with the result that 
presently the strange sight was seen of the magnificent 
English major-domo standing behind my chair in that 
little room and handing round the square-face as though 
it were champagne. It was a spectacle that excited the 
greatest interest in my primitive establishment and 
caused Hans with some native hangers-on to gather at 
the window. However, Lord Ragnall took it as a matter 
of course and I thought it better not to interfere. 

When we had finished we went on to the stoep to 
smoke, leaving Savage to eat his dinner, and I asked 
Lord Ragnall where his luggage was. He replied that 
he had left it at the Customs. "Then," I said, "I will 

ioo The Ivory Child 

send a native with Savage to arrange about getting it 
up here. If you do not mind my rough accommodation 
there is a room for you, and your man can pitch a tent 
in the garden." 

After some demur he accepted with gratitude, and a 
little later Savage and the native were sent off with a 
note to a man who hired out a mule-cart. 

"Now," I said when the gate had shut behind them, 
"will you tell me why you have come to Africa?" 

"Disaster," he replied. "Disaster of the worst sort." 

" Is your wife dead, Lord Ragnall ? " 

"I do not know. I almost hope that she is. At any 
rate she is lost to me." 

An idea leapt to my mind to the effect that she might 
have run away with somebody else, a thing which often 
happens in the world. But fortunately I kept it to my- 
self and only said, 

"She was nearly lost once before, was she not? " 

"Yes, when you saved her. Oh! if only you had 
been with us, Quatermain, this would never have hap- 
pened. Listen : About eighteen months ago she had a 
son, a very beautiful child. She recovered well from 
the business and we were as happy as two mortals could 
be, for we loved each other, Quatermain, and God had 
blessed us in every way; we were so happy that I re- 
member her telling me that our great good fortune made 
her feel afraid. One day last September when I was 
out shooting, she drove in a little pony cart we had 
with the nurse and the child but no man, to call on 
Mrs. Scroope who also had been recently confined. She 
often went out thus, for the pony was an old animal 
and quiet as a sheep. 

" By some cursed trick of fate it chanced that when 
they were passing through the little town which you 
may remember near Ragnall, they met a travelling 
menagerie that was going to some new encampment. 

Lord Ragnall's Story 101 

At the head of the procession marched a large bull 
elephant, which I discovered afterwards was an ill- 
tempered brute that had already killed a man and should 
never have been allowed upon the roads. The sight of 
the pony cart, or perhaps a red cloak which my wife 
was wearing, as she always liked bright colours, for 
some unknown reason seems to have infuriated this beast, 
which trumpeted. The pony becoming frightened 
wheeled round and overturned the cart right in front 
of the animal, but apparently without hurting anybody. 
Then " here he paused a moment and with an effort 
continued "that devil in beast's shape cocked its ears, 
stretched out its long trunk, dragged the baby from the 
nurse's arms, whirled it round and threw it high into 
the air, to fall crushed upon the kerb. It sniffed at 
the body of the child, feeling it over with the tip of its 
trunk, as though to make sure that it was dead. Next, 
once more it trumpeted triumphantly, and without 
attempting to harm my wife or anybody else, walked 
quietly past the broken cart and continued its journey, 
until outside the town it was made fast and shot." 

"What an awful story! " I said with a gasp. 

"Yes, but there is worse to follow. My poor wife 
went off her head, with the shock I suppose, for no 
physical injury could be found upon her. She did not 
suffer in health or become violent; quite the reverse 
indeed for her gentleness increased. She just went off 
her head. For hours at a time she would sit silent and 
smiling, playing with the stones of that red necklace 
which those conjurers gave her, or rather counting them, 
as a nun might do with the beads of her rosary. At 
times, however, she would talk, but always to the baby, 
as though it lay before her or she were nursing it. 
Oh ! Quatermain, it was pitiful, pitiful I 

"I did everything I could. She was seen by three 
of the greatest brain-doctors in England, but none of 

102 The Ivory Child 

them was able to help. The only hope they gave was 
that the fit might pass off as suddenly as it had come. 
They said too that a thorough change of scene would 
perhaps be beneficial, and suggested Egypt ; that was 
in October. I did not take much to the idea, I don't 
know why, and personally should not have acceded to 
it had it not been for a curious circumstance. The last 
consultation took place in the big drawing-room at Rag- 
nail. When it was over my wife remained with her 
mother at one end of the room while I and the doctors 
talked together at the other, as I thought quite out of 
her earshot. Presently, however, she called to me, 
saying in a perfectly clear and natural voice : 

" ' Yes, George, I will go to Egypt. I should like 
to go to Egypt.' Then she went on playing with the 
necklace and talking to the imaginary child. 

"Again on the following morning as I came into 
her room to kiss her, she exclaimed, 

"' When do we start for Egypt? Let it be soon.' 

"With these sayings the doctors were very pleased, 
declaring that they showed signs of a returning interest 
in life and begging me not to thwart her wish. 

"So I gave way and in the end we went to Egypt 
together with Lady Longden, who insisted upon accom- 
panying us although she is a wretched sailor. At Cairo 
a large dahabiyeh that I had hired in advance, manned 
by an excellent crew and a guard of four soldiers, was 
awaiting us. In it we started up the Nile. For a month 
or more all went well; also to my delight my wife 
seemed now and again to show signs of returning in- 
telligence. Thus she took some interest in the sculp- 
tures on the walls of the temples, about which she had 
been very fond of reading when in health. I remember 
that only a few days before the the catastrophe, she 
pointed out one of them to me, it was of Isis and the 
infant Horus, saying, ' Look, George, the holy Mother 

Lord Ragnall's Story 103 

and the holy Child,' and then bowed to it reverently 
as she might have done to an altar. At length after 
passing the First Cataract and the Island of Philae we 
came to the temple of Abu Simbel, opposite to which 
our boat was moored. On the following morning we 
explored the temple at daybreak and saw the sun strike 
upon the four statues which sit at its farther end, 
spending the rest of that day studying the colossal 
figures of Rameses that are carved upon its face and 
watching some cavalcades of Arabs mounted upon 
camels travelling along the banks of the Nile. 

"My wife was unusually quiet that afternoon. For 
hour after hour she sat still upon the deck, gazing first at 
the mouth of the rock-hewn temple and the mighty 
figures which guard it and then at the surrounding 
desert. Only once did I hear her speak and then she 
said, ' Beautiful, beautiful I Now I am at home.' We 
dined and as there was no moon, went to bed rather 
early after listening to the Sudanese singers as they 
sang one of their weird chanties. 

"My wife and her mother slept together in the state 
cabin of the dahabiyeh, which was at the stern of the 
boat. My cabin, a small one, was on one side of this, 
and that of the trained nurse on the other. The crew 
and the guard were forward of the saloon. A gangway 
was fixed from the side to the shore and over it a sentry 
stood, or was supposed to stand. During the night a 
Khamsin wind began to blow, though lightly as was to 
be expected at this season of the year. I did not hear 
it for, as a matter of fact, I slept very soundly, as it 
appears did everyone else upon the dahabiyeh, including 
the sentry as I suspect. 

"The first thing I remember was the appearance of 
Lady Longden just at daybreak at the doorway of my 
cabin and the frightened sound of her voice asking if 
Luna, that is my wife, was with me. Then it transpired 

104 The Ivory Child 

that she had left her cabin clad in a fur cloak, evidently 
some time before, as the bed in which she had been 
lying was quite cold. Quatermain, we searched every- 
where; we searched for four days, but from that hour 
to this no trace whatsoever of her has been found." 

"Have you any theory?" I asked. 

"Yes, or at least all the experts whom we consulted 
have a theory. It is that she slipped down the saloon 
in the dark, gained the deck and thence fell or threw 
herself into the Nile, which of course would have car- 
ried her body away. As you may have heard, the Nile 
is full of bodies. I myself saw two of them during that 
journey. The Egyptian police and others were so 
convinced that this was what had happened that, not- 
withstanding the reward of a thousand pounds which I 
offered for any valuable information, they could scarcely 
be persuaded to continue the search." 

"You said that a wind was blowing and I under- 
stand that the shores are sandy, so I suppose that all 
footprints would have been filled in ? " 

He nodded and I went on. "What is your own 
belief ? Do you think that she was drowned ? " 

He countered my query with another of : 

"What do you think?" 

" I ? Oh ! although I have no right to say so, I 
don't think at all. I am quite sure that she was not 
drowned ; that she is living at this moment." 


"As to that you had better inquire of our friends, 
Harut and Marut," I answered drily. 

" What have you to go on, Quatermain ? There is 
no clue." 

"On the contrary I hold that there are a good many 
clues. The whole English part of the story in which 
we were concerned, and the threats those mysterious 
persons uttered are the first and greatest of these clues. 

Lord Ragnall's Story 105 

The second is the fact that your hiring of the dahabiyeh 
regardless of expense was known a long time before 
your arrival in Egypt, for I suppose you did so in 
your own name, which is not exactly that of Smith 
or Brown. The third is your wife's sleep-walking pro- 
pensities, which would have made it quite easy for her 
to be drawn ashore under some kind of mesmeric 
influence. The fourth is that you had seen Arabs 
mounted on camels upon the banks of the Nile. The 
fifth is the heavy sleep you say held everybody on board 
upon this particular night, which suggests to me that 
your food may have been drugged. The sixth is the 
apathy displayed by those employed in the search, 
which suggests to me that some person or persons in 
authority may have been bribed, as is common in the 
East, or perhaps frightened with threats of bewitchment. 
The seventh is that a night was chosen when a wind 
blew which would obliterate all spoor whether of men 
or of swiftly travelling camels. These are enough to 
begin with, though doubtless if I had time to think I 
could find others. You must remember too that 
although the journey would be long, this country of 
the Kendah can doubtless be reached from the Sudan 
by those who know the road, as well as from southern 
or eastern Africa." 

"Then you think that my wife has been kidnapped 
by those villains, Harut and Marut?" 

"Of course, though villains is a strong term to apply 
to them. They may be quite honest men according to 
their peculiar lights, as indeed I expect they are. Re- 
member that they serve a god or a fetish, or rather, 
as they believe, a god in a fetish, who to them doubtless 
is a very terrible master, especially when, as I under- 
stand, that god is threatened by a rival god." 

"Why do you say that, Quatermain ? " 

By way of answer I repeated to him the story which 

io6 The Ivory Child 

Hans said he had heard from the old woman at Beza, 
the town of the Mazitu. Lord Ragnall listened with 
the deepest interest, then said in an agitated voice : 

"That is a very strange tale, but has it struck you, 
Quatermain, that if your suppositions are correct, one 
of the most terrible circumstances connected with my 
case is that our child should have chanced to come to its 
dreadful death through the wickedness of an elephant ? " 

"That curious coincidence has struck me most 
forcibly, Lord Ragnall. At the same time I do not see 
how it can be set down as more than a coincidence, 
since the elephant which slaughtered your child was 
certainly not that called Jana. To suppose because 
there is a war between an elephant-god and a child-god 
somewhere in the heart of Africa, that therefore another 
elephant can be so influenced that it kills a child in 
England, is to my mind out of all reason." 

That is what I said to him, as I did not wish to intro- 
duce a new horror into an affair that was already 
horrible enough. But, recollecting that these priests, 
Harut and Marut, believed the mother of this murdered 
infant to be none other than the oracle of their worship 
(though how this chanced passed my comprehension), 
and therefore the great enemy of the evil elephant-god, 
I confess that at heart I felt afraid. If any powers of 
magic, black or white or both, were mixed up with the 
matter as my experiences in England seemed to suggest, 
who could say what might be their exact limits? As, 
however, it has been demonstrated again and again by 
the learned that no such thing as African magic exists, 
this line of thought appeared to be too foolish to follow. 
So passing it by I asked Lord Ragnall to continue. 

"For over a month," he went on, "I stopped in 
Egypt waiting till emissaries who had been sent to the 
chiefs of various tribes in the Sudan and elsewhere, 
returned with the news that nothing whatsoever had 

Lord Ragnall's Story 107 

been seen of a white woman travelling in the company 
of natives, nor had they heard of any such woman being 
sold as a slave. Also through the Khedive, on whom I 
was able to bring influence to bear by help of the British 
Government, I caused many harems in Egypt to be 
visited, entirely without result. After this, leaving the 
inquiry in the hands of the British Consul and a firm 
of French lawyers, although in truth all hope had 
gone, I returned to England whither I had already sent 
Lady Longden, broken-hearted, for it occurred to me 
as possible that my wife might have drifted or been 
taken thither. But here, too, there was no trace of her 
or of anybody who could possibly answer to her 
description. So at last I came to the conclusion that 
her bones must lie somewhere at the bottom of the 
Nile, and gave way to despair." 

"Always a foolish thing to do," I remarked. 

"You will say so indeed when you hear the end, 
Quatermain. My bereavement and the sleeplessness 
which it caused preyed upon me so much, for now that 
the child was dead my wife was everything to me, that, 
I will tell you the truth, my brain became affected and 
like Job I cursed God in my heart and determined to 
die. Indeed I should have died by my own hand, had 
it not been for Savage. I had procured the laudanum 
and loaded the pistol with which I proposed to shoot 
myself immediately after it was swallowed so that there 
might be no mistake. One night only a couple of months 
or so ago, Quatermain, I sat in my study at Ragnall, 
with the doors locked as I thought, writing a few final 
letters before I did the deed. The last of them was 
just finished about twelve when hearing a noise, I looked 
up and saw Savage standing before me. I asked him 
angrily how he came there (I suppose he must have had 
another key to one of the doors) and what he wanted. 
Ignoring the first part of the question he replied : 

io8 The Ivory Child 

" ' My lord, I have been thinking over our trouble ' 
he was with us in Egypt ' I have been thinking so 
much that it has got a hold of my sleep. To-night as 
you said you did not want me any more and I was tired, 
I went to bed early and had a dream. I dreamed that 
we were once more in the shrubbery, as happened some 
years ago, and that the little African gent who shot 
like a book, was showing us the traces of those two 
black men, just as he did when they tried to steal her 
ladyship. Then in my dream I seemed to go back to 
bed and that beastly snake which we found lying under 
the parcel in the road seemed to follow me. When I 
had got to sleep again, all in the dream, there it was 
standing on its tail at the end of the bed, hissing till 
it woke me. Then it spoke in good English and not 
in African as might have been expected. 

"' "Savage," it said, "get up and dress yourself and 
go at once and tell his lordship to travel to Natal and 
find Mr. Allan Quatermain " (you remember that was 
the African gentleman's name, my lord, which with so 
many coming and going in this great house, I had 
quite forgotten until I had the dream). "Find Mr. 
Allan Quatermain," that slimy reptile went on, opening 
and shutting its mouth for all the world like a Christian 
making a speech, "for he will have something to tell him 
as to that which has made a hole in his heart that is now 
filled with the seven devils. Be quick, Savage, and 
don't stop to put on your shirt or your tie " I have not, 
my lord, as you may see. " He is shut up in the study 
but you know how to get into it. If he will not listen 
to you let him look round the study and he will see 
something which will tell him that this is a true dream." 

"'Then the snake vanished, seeming to wriggle 
down the left bottom bed-post, and I woke up in a cold 
sweat, my lord, and did what it had told me.' 

"Those were his very words, Quatermain, for I wrote 

Lord RagnalPs Story 109 

them down afterwards while they were fresh in my 
memory, and you see here they are in my pocket-book. 

"Well, I answered him, rather brusquely I am 
afraid, for a crazed man who is about to leave the world 
under such circumstances does not show at his best 
when disturbed almost in the very act, to the edge of 
which long agony has brought him. I told him that 
all his dream of snakes seemed ridiculous, which 
obviously it was, and was about to send him away, when 
it occurred to me that the suggestion it conveyed that 
I should put myself in communication with you was 
not ridiculous in view of the part you had already 
played in the story." 

"Very far from ridiculous," I interpolated. 

"To tell the truth," went on Lord Ragnall, "I had 
already thought of doing the same thing, but somehow 
beneath the pressure of my imminent grief the idea 
was squeezed out of my mind, perhaps because you 
were so far away and I did not know if I could find you 
even if I tried. Pausing for a moment before I dis- 
missed Savage, I rose from the desk at which I was 
writing and began to walk up and down the room 
thinking what I would do. I am not certain if you saw 
it when you were at Ragnall, but it is a large room, 
fifty feet long or so though not very broad. It has two 
fireplaces, in both of which fires were burning on this 
night, and it was lit by four standing lamps besides 
that upon my desk. Now between these fireplaces, in 
a kind of niche in the wall, and a little in the shadow 
because none of the lamps was exactly opposite to it, 
hung a portrait of my wife which I had caused to be 
painted by a fashionable artist when first we became 

"I remember it," I said. "Or rather I remember its 
existence. I did not see it because a curtain hung over 
the picture, which Savage told me you did not wish 

no The Ivory Child 

to be looked at by anybody but yourself. At the time 
I remarked to him, or rather to myself, that to veil the 
likeness of a living woman in such a way seemed to 
me rather an ill-omened thing to do, though why I 
should have thought it so I do not quite know." 

"You are quite right, Quatermain. I had that 
foolish fancy, a lover's freak, I suppose. When we 
married the curtain was removed although the brass 
rod on which it hung was left by some oversight. On 
my return to England after my loss, however, I found 
that I could not bear to look upon this lifelike likeness 
of one who had been taken from me so cruelly, and I 
caused it to be replaced. I did more. In order that 
it might not be disturbed by some dusting housemaid, 
I myself made it fast with three or four tin-tacks which 
I remember I drove through the velvet stuff into the 
panelling, using a fireiron as a hammer. At the time 
I thought it a good job although by accident I struck 
the nail of the third finger of my left hand so hard 
that it came off. Look, it has not quite finished grow- 
ing again," and he showed the finger on which the new 
nail was still in process of formation. 

"Well, as I walked up and down the room some 
impulse caused me to look towards this picture. To 
my astonishment I saw that it was no longer veiled, 
although to the best of my belief the curtain had been 
drawn over it as lately as that afternoon ; indeed l> could 
have sworn that this was so. I called to Savage to 
bring the lamp that stood upon my table, and by its 
light made an examination. The curtain was drawn 
back, very tidily, being fastened in its place clear of the 
little alcove by means of a thin brass chain. Also 
along one edge of it, that which I had nailed to the 
panelling, the tin-tacks were still in their places; that 
is, three of them were, the fourth I found afterwards 
upon the floor. 

Lord Ragnall's Story m 

"'She looks beautiful, doesn't she, my lord,' said 
Savage, ' and please God so we shall still find her 
somewhere in the world.' 

"I did not answer him, or even remark upon the 
withdrawal of the curtain, as to which indeed I never 
made any inquiry. I suppose that it was done by some 
zealous servant while I was pretending to eat my dinner 
there were one or two new ones in the house whose 
names and appearance I did not know. What impressed 
itself upon my mind was that the face which I had never 
expected to see again on the earth, even in a picture, 
was once more given to my eyes, it mattered not how. 
This, in my excited state, for laudanum waiting to be 
swallowed and a pistol at full cock for firing do not 
induce calmness in a man already almost mad, at any 
rate until they have fulfilled their offices, did in truth 
appear to me to be something of the nature of a sign 
such as that spoken of in Savage's idiotic dream, which 
I was to find if ' I looked round the study.' 

"'Savage,' I said, 'I don't think much of your 
dreams about snakes that talk to you, but I do think that 
it might be well to see Mr. Quatermain. To-day is Sun- 
day and I believe that the African mail sails on Friday. 
Go to town early to-morrow and book passages.' 

"Also I told him to see various gunsmiths and bid 
them send down a selection of rifles and other weapons 
for me to choose from, as I did not know whither we 
might wander in Africa, and to make further necessary 
arrangements. All of these things he did, and here 
we are." 

"Yes," I answered reflectively, "here you are. What 
is more, here is your luggage of which there seems to 
be enough for a regiment," and I pointed to a Scotch 
cart piled up with baggage and followed by a long line 
of Kafirs carrying sundry packages upon their heads 
that, marshalled by Savage, had halted at my gate. 



THAT evening when the baggage had been disposed of 
and locked up in my little stable and arrangements were 
made for the delivery of some cases containing tinned 
foods, etc., which had proved too heavy for the Scotch 
cart, Lord Ragnall and I continued our conversation. 
First, however, we unpacked the guns and checked the 
ammunition, of which there was a large supply, with 
more to follow. 

A beautiful battery they were of all sorts from 
elephant guns down, the most costly and best finished 
that money could buy at the time. It made me shiver 
to think what the bill for them must have been, while 
their appearance when they were put together and stood 
in a long line against the wall of my sitting-room, moved 
old Hans to a kind of ecstasy. For a long while he 
contemplated them, patting the stocks one after the 
other and giving to each a name as though they were 
all alive, then exclaimed : 

"With such weapons as these the Baas could kill 
the devil himself. Still, let the Baas bring Intombi 
with him " a favourite old rifle of mine and a mere toy 
in size, that had however done me good service in the 
past, as those who have read what I have written in 
"Marie" and "The Holy Flower" may remember. 
"For, Baas, after all the wife of one's youth often 
proves more to be trusted than the fine young ones a 
man buys in his age. Also one knows all her faults, 
but who can say how many there may be hidden up in 


The Start 113 

new women however beautifully they are tattooed ? " 
and he pointed to the elaborate engraving upon the 

I translated this speech to Lord Ragnall. It made 
him laugh, at which I was glad for up till then I had 
not seen him even smile. I should add that in addition 
to these sporting weapons there were no fewer than 
fifty military rifles of the best make, they were large- 
bore Sniders that had just then been put upon the 
market, and with them, packed in tin cases, a great 
quantity of ammunition. Although the regulations 
were not so strict then as they are now, I met with a 
great deal of difficulty in getting all this armament 
through the Customs. Lord Ragnall however had 
letters from the Colonial Office to such authorities as 
ruled in Natal, and on our giving a joint undertaking 
that they were for defensive purposes only in unexplored 
territory and not for sale, they were allowed through. 
Fortunate did it prove for us in after days that this 
matter was arranged. 

That night before we went to bed I narrated to Lord 
Ragnall all the history of our search for the Holy 
Flower, which he seemed to find very entertaining. 
Also I told him of my adventures, to me far more 
terrible, as chairman of the Bona Fide Gold Mine and 
of their melancholy end. 

"The lesson of which is," he remarked when I had 
finished, "that because a man is master of one trade, 
it does not follow that he is master of another. You 
are, I should judge, one of the finest shots in the world, 
you are also a great hunter and explorer. But when it 

comes to companies, Quatermain ! Still," he went 

on, "I ought to be grateful to that Bona Fide Gold 
Mine, since I gather that had it not been for it and for 
your rascally friend, Mr. Jacob, I should not have 
found you here." 

ii 4 The Ivory Child 

"No," I answered, "it is probable that you would 
not, as by this time I might have been far in the in- 
terior where a man cannot be traced and letters do not 
reach him." 

Then he made a few pointed inquiries about the 
affairs of the mine, noting my answers down in his 
pocket-book. I thought this odd but concluded that he 
wished to verify my statements before entering into a 
close companionship with me, since for aught he knew I 
might be the largest liar in the world and a swindler to 
boot. So I said nothing, even when I heard through a 
roundabout channel on the morrow that he had sought 
an interview with the late secretary of the defunct 

A few days later, for I may as well finish with this 
matter at once, the astonishing object of these inquiries 
was made clear to me. One morning I found upon my 
table a whole pile of correspondence, at the sight of 
which I groaned, feeling sure that it must come from 
duns and be connected with that infernal mine. 
Curiosity and a desire to face the worst, however, led me 
to open the first letter which as it happened proved to 
be from that very shareholder who had proposed a 
vote of confidence in me at the winding-up meeting. 
By the time that it was finished my eyes were swimming 
and really I felt quite faint. It ran : 

"HONOURED SIR, I knew that I was putting my 
money on the right horse when I said the other day 
that you were one of the straightest that ever ran. 
Well, I have got the cheque sent me by the lawyer on 
your account, being payment in full for every farthing 
I invested in the Bona Fide Gold Mine, and I can 
only say that it is uncommonly useful, for that busi- 
ness had pretty well cleaned me out. God bless you, 
Mr. Quatermain." 

The Start 115 

I opened another letter, and another, and another. 
They were all to the same effect. Bewildered I went 
on to the stoep, where I found Hans with an epistle in 
his hand which he requested me to be good enough to 
read. I read it. It was from a well-known firm of local 
lawyers and said : 

"On behalf of Allan Quatermain, Esq., we beg 
to enclose you draft for the sum of 650, being the 
value of the interest in the Bona Fide Gold Company, 
Limited (in liquidation), which stands in your name 
on the books of the company. Please sign enclosed 
receipt and return same to us." 

Yes, and there was the draft for ^650 sterling ! 

I explained the matter to Hans, or rather I translated 
the document, adding : 

"You see you have got your money back again. 
But, Hans, I never sent it; I don't know where it comes 

" Is it money, Baas ? " asked Hans, surveying the 
draft with suspicion. "It looks very much like the 
other bit of paper for which I paid money." 

Again I explained, reiterating that I knew nothing 
of the transaction. 

"Well, Baas," he said, "if you did not send it 
someone did perhaps your father the reverend 
Predikant, who sees that you are in trouble and wishes 
to wash your name white again. Meanwhile, Baas, 
please put that bit of paper in your pocket-book and 
keep it for me, for otherwise I might be tempted to 
buy square-face with it." 

"No," I answered, "you can now buy your land 
back, or some other land, and there will be no need 
for you to come with me to the country of the Kendah." 

Hans thought a moment and then very deliberately 

n6 The Ivory Child 

began to tear up the draft; indeed I was only just in 
time to save it from destruction. 

"If the Baas is going to turn me off because of this 
paper," he said, "I will make it small and eat it." 

"You silly old fool," I said as I possessed myself of 
the cheque. 

Then the conversation was interrupted, for who 
should appear but Sammy, my old cook, who began in 
his pompous language : 

"The perfect rectitude of your conduct, Mr. Quater- 
main, moves me to the deepest gratitude, though indeed 
I wish that I had put something into the food of the 
knave Jacob who beguiled us all, that would have caused 
him internal pangs of a severe if not of a dangerous 
order. My holding in the gold mine was not extensive, 
but the unpaid bill of the said Jacob and his friends " 

Here I cut him short and fled, since I saw yet an- 
other shareholder galloping to the gate, and behind 
him two more in a spider. First I took refuge in my 
room, my idea being to put away that pile of letters. 
In so doing I observed that there was one still un- 
opened. Half mechanically I took it from the envelope 
and glanced at its contents. They were word for word 
identical with those of that addressed to "Mr. Hans, 
Hottentot," only my name was at the bottom of it 
instead of that of Hans and the cheque was for ^1,500, 
the amount I had paid for the shares I held in the 

Feeling as though my brain were in a melting-pot, 
I departed from the house into a patch of native bush 
that in those days still grew upon the slope of the hill 
behind. Here I sat myself down, as I had often done 
before when there was a knotty point to be considered, 
aimlessly watching a lovely emerald cuckoo flashing, a 
jewel of light, from tree to tree, while I turned all this 
fairy-godmother business over in my mind. 

The Start 117 

Of course it soon became clear to me. Lord Rag- 
nail in this case was the little old lady with the wand, 
the touch of which could convert worthless share certifi- 
cates into bank-notes of their face value. I remembered 
now that his wealth was said to be phenomenal and 
after all the cash capital of the company was quite 
small. But the question was could I accept his 
bounty ? 

I returned to the house where the first person whom 
I met was Lord Ragnall himself, just arrived from some 
interview about the fifty Snider rifles which were still in 
bond. I told him solemnly that I wished to speak to 
him, whereon he remarked in a cheerful voice, 
"Advance, friend, and all's well 1 " 
I don't know that I need set out the details of the 
interview. He waited till I had got through my halting 
speech of mingled gratitude and expostulation, then 
remarked : 

"My friend, if you will allow me to call you so, it 
is quite true that I have done this because I wished to 
do it. But it is equally true that to me it is a small 
thing to be frank, scarcely a month's income; what I 
have saved travelling on that ship to Natal would pay 
for it all. Also I have weighed my own interest in the 
matter, for I am anxious that you should start upon 
this hazardous journey of ours up country with a mind 
absolutely free from self-reproach or any money care, 
for thus you will be able to do me better service. There- 
fore I beg that you will say no more of the episode. I 
have only one thing to add, namely that I have myself 
bought up at par value a few of the debentures. The 
price of them will pay the lawyers and the liquidation 
fees; moreover they give me a status as a shareholder 
which will enable me to sue Mr. Jacob for his fraud, 
as to which business I have already issued instructions. 
For please understand that I have not paid off 

n8 The Ivory Child 

any shares still standing in his name or in those of 
his friends." 

Here I may add that nothing ever came of this action, 
for the lawyers found themselves unable to serve any 
writ upon that elusive person, Mr. Jacob, who by then 
had probably adopted the name of some other patriarch. 

"Please put it all down as a rich man's whim," he 

"I can't call that a whim which has returned 
^1,500 odd to my pocket that I had lost upon a gamble, 
Lord Ragnall." 

"Do you remember, Quatermain, how you won 
,250 upon a gamble at my place and what you 
did with it, which sum probably represented to 
you twenty or fifty times what it would to me? 
Also if that argument does not appeal to you, may I 
remark that I do not expect you to give me your 
services as a professional hunter and guide for nothing." 

"Ah ! " I answered, fixing on this point and ignoring 
the rest, "now we come to business. If I may look 
upon this amount as salary, a very handsome salary by 
the way, paid in advance, you taking the risks of my 
dying or becoming incapacitated before it is earned, I 
will say no more of the matter. If not I must refuse to 
accept what is an unearned gift." 

"I confess, Quatermain, that I did not regard it in 
that light, though I might have been willing to call it a 
retaining fee. However, do not let us wrangle about 
money any more. We can always settle our accounts 
when the bill is added up, if ever we reach so far. Now 
let us come to more important affairs." 

So we fell to discussing the scheme, route and details 
of our proposed journey. Expenditure being practically 
no object, there were several plans open to us. We might 
sail up the coast and go by Kilwa, as I had done on 
the search for the Holy Flower, or we might retrace the 

The Start 119 

line of our retreat from the Mazitu country which ran 
through Zululand. Again, we might advance by what- 
ever road we selected with a small army of drilled and 
disciplined retainers, trusting to force to break a way 
through to the Kendah. Or we might go practically 
unaccompanied, relying on our native wit and good 
fortune to attain our ends. Each of these alternatives 
had so much to recommend it and yet presented so many 
difficulties, that after long hours of discussion, for this 
talk was renewed again and again, I found it quite 
impossible to decide upon any one of them, especially 
as in the end Lord Ragnalt always left the choice with 
its heavy responsibilities to me. 

At length in despair I opened the window and 
whistled twice on a certain low note. A minute later 
Hans shuffled in, shaking the wet off the new corduroy 
clothes which he had bought upon the strength of his 
return to affluence, for it was raining outside, and 
squatted himself down upon the floor at a little distance. 
In the shadow of the table which cut off the light from 
the hanging lamp he looked, I remember, exactly like 
an enormous and antique toad. I threw him a piece of 
tobacco which he thrust into his corn-cob pipe and lit 
with a match. 

"The Baas called me," he said when it was drawing 
to his satisfaction, "what does the Baas want of Hans ? " 

" Light in darkness ! " I replied, playing on his 
native name, and proceeded to set out the whole case to 

He listened without a word, then asked for a small 
glass of gin, which I gave him doubtfully. Having 
swallowed this at a gulp as though it were water, he 
delivered himself briefly to this effect : 

"I think the Baas will do well not to go to Kilwa, 
since it means waiting for a ship, or hiring one; also 
there may be more slave-traders there by now who will 

120 The Ivory Child 

bear him no love because of a lesson he taught them a 
while ago. On the other hand the road through Zulu- 
land is open, though it be long, and there the name of 
Macumazana is one well known. I think also that the 
Baas would do well not to take too many men, who 
make marching slow, only a wagon or two and some 
drivers which might be sent back when they can go no 
farther. From Zululand messengers can be dispatched 
to the Mazitu, who love you, and Bausi or whoever is 
king there to-day will order bearers to meet us on the 
road, until which time we can hire other bearers in 
Zululand. The old woman at Beza-Town told me more- 
over, as you will remember, that the Kendah are a very 
great people who live by themselves and will allow none 
to enter their land, which is bordered by deserts. There- 
fore no force that you could take with you and feed 
upon a road without water would be strong enough to 
knock down their gates like an elephant, and it seems 
better that you should try to creep through them like a 
wise snake, although they appear to be shut in your face. 
Perhaps also they will not be shut since did you not 
say that two of their great doctors promised to meet 
you and guide you through them ? " 

"Yes," I interrupted, "I dare say it will be easier 
to get in than to get out of Kendahland." 

"Last of all, Baas, if you take many men armed with 
guns, the black part of the Kendah people of whom I 
told you will perhaps think you come to make war, 
whatever the white Kendah may say, and kill us all, 
whereas if we be but a few perchance they will let us 
pass in peace. I think that is all, Baas. Let the Baas 
and the Lord Igeza forgive me if my words are foolish." 

Here I should explain that "Igeza" was the name 
which the natives had given to Lord Ragnall because 
of his appearance. The word means a handsome person 
in the Zulu tongue. Savage they called "Bena," I 

The Start 121 

don't quite know why. "Bena" in Zulu means to push 
out the breast and it may be that the name was a round- 
about allusion to the proud appearance of the dignified 
Savage, or possibly it had some other recondite signifi- 
cation. At any rate Lord Ragnall, Hans and myself 
knew the splendid Savage thenceforward by the homely 
appellation of Beans. His master said it suited him 
very well because he was so green. 

"The advice seems wise, Hans. Go now. No, no 
more gin," I answered. 

As a matter of fact careful consideration convinced 
us it was so wise that we acted on it down to the last 

So it came about that one fine afternoon about a 
fortnight later, for hurry as we would our preparations 
took a little time, we trekked for Zululand over the sandy 
roads that ran from the outskirts of Durban. Our 
baggage and stores were stowed in two half-tented 
wagons, very good wagons since everything we had 
with us was the best that money could buy, the after- 
part of which served us as sleeping-places at night. 
Hans sat on the voor-kisse or driving-seat of one of the 
wagons; Lord Ragnall, Savage and I were mounted 
upon " salted " horses, that is, horses which had re- 
covered from and were therefore supposed to be proof 
against the dreadful sickness, valuable and docile 
animals which were trained to shooting. 

At our start a little contretemps occurred. To my 
amazement I saw Savage, who insisted upon continuing 
to wear his funereal upper servant's cut-away coat, 
engaged with grim determination in mounting his steed 
from the wrong side. He got into the saddle somehow, 
but there was worse to follow. The horse, astonished at 
such treatment, bolted a little way, Savage sawing at 
its mouth. Lord Ragnall and I cantered after it past 

122 The Ivory Child 

the wagons, fearing disaster. All of a sudden it swerved 
violently and Savage flew into the air, landing heavily 
in a sitting posture. 

" Poor Beans 1 " ejaculated Ragnall as we sped for- 
ward. "I expect there is an end of his journeyings." 

To our surprise, however, we saw him leap from the 
ground with the most marvellous agility and begin to 
dance about slapping at his posterior parts and shouting, 

"Take it off! Kill it!" 

A few seconds later we discovered the reason. The 
horse had shied at a sleeping puff adder which was 
curled up in the sand of that little frequented road, and 
on this puff adder Savage had descended with so much 
force, for he weighed thirteen stone, that the creature 
was squashed quite flat and never stirred again. This, 
however, he did not notice in his agitation, being 
convinced indeed that it was hanging to him behind like 
a bulldog. 

"Snakes ! my lord," he exclaimed, when at last after 
careful search we demonstrated to him that the adder 
had died before it could come into action. 

"I hate 'em, my lord, and they haunts" (he said 
'aunts) "me. If ever I get out of this I'll go and live in 
Ireland, my lord, where they say there ain't none. But 
it isn't likely that I shall," he added mournfully, "for 
the omen is horrid." 

"On the contrary," I answered, "it is splendid, for 
you have killed the snake, not the snake you. ' The 
dog it was that died,' Savage." 

After this the Kafirs gave Savage a second very long 
name which meant "He-who-sits-down-on-snakes-and- 
makes-them-flat." Having remounted him on his horse, 
which was standing patiently a few yards away, at 
length we got off. I lingered a minute behind the 
others to give some directions to my old Griqua 
gardener, Jack, whq snivelled at parting with me, and 

The Start 123 

to take a last look at my little home. Alack ! I feared 
it might be the last indeed, knowing as I did that this 
was a dangerous enterprise upon which I found myself 
embarked, I who had vowed that I would be done with 

With a lump in my throat I turned from the 
contemplation of that peaceful dwelling and happy 
garden in which each tree and plant was dear to me, 
and waving a good-bye to Jack, cantered on to where 
Ragnall was waiting for me. 

" I am afraid this is rather a sad hour for you, who 
are leaving your little boy and your home," he said 
gently, "to face unknown perils." 

"Not so sad as others I have passed," I answered, 
"and perils are my daily bread in every sense of the 
word. Moreover, whatever it is for me it is for you 

"No, Quatermain. For me it is an hour of hope; a 
faint hope, I admit, but the only one left, for the letters 
I got last night from Egypt and England report that 
no clue whatsoever has been found, and indeed that the 
search for any has been abandoned. Yes, I follow the 
last star left in my sky and if it sets I hope that I may 
set also, at any rate to this world. Therefore I am 
happier than I have been for months, thanks to you," 
and he stretched out his hand, which I shook. 

It was a token of friendship and mutual confidence 
which I am glad to say nothing that happened 
afterwards ever disturbed for a moment. 



Now I do not propose to describe all our journey to 
Kendahland, or at any rate the first part thereof. It 
was interesting enough in its way and we met with a 
few hunting adventures, also some others. But there 
is so much to tell of what happened to us after we 
reached the place that I have not the time, even if I 
had the inclination to set all these matters down. Let 
it be sufficient, then, to say that although owing to 
political events the country happened to be rather dis- 
turbed at the time, we trekked through Zululand without 
any great difficulty. For here my name was a power 
in the land and all parties united to help me. Thence, 
too, I managed to dispatch three messengers, half-bred 
border men, lean fellows and swift of foot, forward to 
the king of the Mazitu, as Hans had suggested that I 
should do, advising him that his old friends, Macuma- 
zana, Watcher-by-Night, and the yellow man who was 
named Light-in-Darkness and Lord-of-the-Fire, were 
about to visit him again. 

As I knew we could not take the wagons beyond a 
certain point where there was a river called the Luba, 
unfordable by anything on wheels, I requested him, 
moreover, to send a hundred bearers with whatever 
escort might be necessary, to meet us on the banks of 
that river at a spot which was known to both of us. 
These words the messengers promised to deliver for a 
fee of five head of cattle apiece, to be paid on their 
return, or to their families if they died on the road, 


The Meeting in the Desert 125 

which cattle we purchased and left in charge of a chief, 
who was their kinsman. As it happened two of the 
poor fellows did die, one of them of cold in a swamp 
through which they took a short cut, and the other at 
the teeth of a hungry lion. The third, however, won 
through and delivered the message. 

After resting for a fortnight in the northern parts of 
Zululand, to give time to our wayworn oxen to get some 
flesh on their bones in the warm bushveld where grass 
was plentiful even in the dry season, we trekked forward 
by a route known to Hans and myself. Indeed it was 
the same which we had followed on our journey from 
Mazituland after our expedition in search for the Holy 

We took with us a small army of Zulu bearers. 
This, although they were difficult to feed in a country 
where no corn could be bought, proved fortunate in the 
end, since so many of our cattle died from tsetse bite 
that we were obliged to abandon one of the wagons, 
which meant that the goods it contained must be carried 
by men. At length we reached the banks of the river, 
and camped there one night by three tall peaks of rock 
which the natives called "The Three Doctors," where I 
had instructed the messengers to tell the Mazitu to 
send to meet us. For four days we remained here, 
since rains in the interior had made the river quite 
impassable. Every morning I climbed the tallest of the 
"Doctors" and with my glasses looked over its broad 
yellow flood, searching the wide, bush-clad land beyond 
in the hope of discovering the Mazitu advancing to 
meet us. Not a man was to be seen, however, and on 
the fourth evening, as the river had now become ford- 
able, we determined that we would cross on the morrow, 
leaving the remaining wagon, which it was impossible 
to drag over its rocky bottom, to be taken back to Natal 
by our drivers. 

126 The Ivory Child 

Here a difficulty arose. No promise of reward would 
induce any of our Zulu bearers even to wet their feet 
in the waters of this River Luba, which for some reason 
that I could not extract from them they declared to be 
tagati, that is, bewitched, to people of their blood. 
When I pointed out that three Zulus had already under- 
taken to cross it, they answered that those men were 
half-breeds, so that for them it was only half bewitched, 
but they thought that even so one or more of them would 
pay the penalty of death for this rash crime. 

It chanced that this happened, for, as I have said, 
two of the poor fellows did die, though not, I think, 
owing to the magical properties of the waters of the 
Luba. This is how African superstitions are kept alive. 
Sooner or later some saying of the sort fulfils itself and 
then the instance is remembered and handed down for 
generations, while other instances in which nothing out 
of the common has occurred are not heeded, or are 

This decision on the part of those stupid Zulus put 
us in an awkward fix, since it was impossible for us to 
carry over all our baggage and ammunition without 
help. Therefore glad was I when before dawn on the 
fifth morning the nocturnal Hans crept into the wagon, 
in the after part of which Ragnall and I were sleeping, 
and informed us that he heard men's voices on the 
farther side of the river, though how he could hear 
anything above that roar of water passed my compre- 

At the first break of dawn again we climbed the tallest 
of the "Doctor" rocks and stared into the mist. At 
length it rolled away and there on the farther side of the 
river I saw quite a hundred men who by their dress and 
spears I knew to be Mazitu. They saw me also and 
raising a cheer, dashed into the water, groups of them 
holding each other round the middle to prevent their 

The Meeting in the Desert 127 

being swept away. Thereupon our silly Zulus seized 
their spears and formed up upon the bank. I slid down 
the steep side of the " Great Doctor " and ran forward, 
calling out that these were friends who came. 

"Friends or foes," answered their captain sullenly, 
" it is a pity that we should walk so far and not have a 
fight with those Mazitu dogs." 

Well, I drove them off to a distance, not knowing 
what might happen if the two peoples met, and then 
went down to the bank. By now the Mazitu were near, 
and to my delight at the head of them I perceived no 
other than my old friend, their chief general, Babemba, 
a one-eyed man with whom Hans and I had shared many 
adventures. Through the water he plunged with great 
bounds and reaching the shore, greeted me literally with 

"O Macumazana," he said, "little did I hope that 
ever again I should look upon your face. Welcome to 
you, a thousand welcomes, and to you too, Light-in- 
Darkness, Lord-of-the-Fire, Cunning-one whose wit 
saved us in the Battle of the Gate. But where is 
Dogeetah, where is Wazeela, and where are the Mother 
and the Child of the Flower ? " 

"Far away across the Black Water, Babemba," I 
answered. "But here are two others in place of them," 
and I introduced him to Ragnall and Savage by their 
native names of Igeza and Bena. 

He contemplated them for a moment, then said : 

"This," pointing to Ragnall, "is a great lord, but 
this," pointing to Savage, who was much the better 
dressed of the two, " is but a cock of the ashpit arrayed 
in an eagle's feathers," a remark I did not translate, but 
one which caused Hans to sniggle vacuously. 

While we breakfasted on food prepared by the 
"Cock of the Ashpit," who amongst many other merits 
had that of being an excellent cook, I heard all the news. 

128 The Ivory Child 

Bausi the king was dead but had been succeeded by one 
of his sons, also named Bausi, whom I remembered. 
Beza-Town had been rebuilt after the great fire that 
destroyed the slavers, and much more strongly fortified 
than before. Of the slavers themselves nothing more 
had been seen, or of the Pongo either, though the 
Mazitu declared that their ghosts, or those of their 
victims, still haunted the island in the lake. That was 
all, except the ill tidings as to two of our messengers 
which the third, who had returned with the Mazitu, 
reported to us. 

After breakfast I addressed and sent away our Zulus, 
each with a handsome present from the trade goods, 
giving into their charge the remaining wagon and our 
servants, none of whom, somewhat to my relief, wished 
to accompany us farther. They sang their song of 
good-bye, saluted and departed over the rise, still look- 
ing hungrily behind them at the Mazitu, and we were 
very pleased to see the last of them without bloodshed 
or trouble. 

When we had watched the white tilt of the wagon 
vanish, we set to work to get ourselves and our goods 
across the river. This we accomplished safely, for the 
Mazitu worked for us like friends and not as do hired 
men. On the farther bank, however, it took us two full 
days so to divide up the loads that the bearers could 
carry them without being overladen. 

At length all was arranged and we started. Of the 
month's trek that followed there is nothing to tell, 
except that we completed it without notable accidents 
and at last reached the new Beza-Town, which much 
resembled the old, where we were accorded a great public 
reception. Bausi II. himself headed the procession 
which met us outside the south gate on that very mound 
which we had occupied in the great fight, where the 
bones of the gallant Mavovo and my other hunters lay 

The Meeting in the Desert 129 

buried. Almost did it seem to me as though I could 
hear their deep voices joining in the shouts of welcome. 

That night, while the Mazitu feasted in our honour, 
we held an indaba in the big new guest house with 
Bausi II., a pleasant-faced young man, and old 
Babemba. The king asked us how long we meant to 
stay at Beza-Town, intimating his hope that the visit 
would be prolonged. I replied, but a few days as we 
were travelling far to the north to find a people called 
the Kendah whom we wished to see, and hoped that he 
would give us bearers to carry our goods as far as the 
confines of their country. At the name of Kendah a 
look of astonishment appeared upon their faces and 
Babemba said : 

"Has madness seized you, Macumazana, that you 
would attempt this thing ? Oh ! surely you must be 

"You thought us mad, Babemba, when we crossed 
the lake to Rica Town, yet we came back safely." 

"True, Macumazana, but compared to the Kendah 
the Pongo were but as the smallest star before the face 
of the sun." 

"What do you know of them then ? " I asked. "But 
stay before you answer, I will speak what I know," 
and I repeated what I had learned from Hans, who con- 
firmed my words, and from Harut and Marut, leaving 
out, however, any mention of their dealings with Lady 

" It is all true," said Babemba when I had finished, 
"for that old woman of whom Light-in-Darkness speaks, 
was one of the wives of my uncle and I knew her well. 
Hearken ! These Kendah are a terrible nation and 
countless in number and of all people the fiercest. Their 
king is called Simba, which means Lion. He who rules 
is always called Simba, and has been so called for 
hundreds of years. He is of the Black Kendah whose 

130 The Ivory Child 

god is the elephant Jana, but as Light-in-Darkness has 
said, there are also the White Kendah who are Arab 
men, the priests and traders of the people. The Kendah 
will allow no stranger within their doors; if one comes 
they kill him by torment, or blind him and turn him 
out into the desert which surrounds their country, there 
to die. These things the old woman who married my 
uncle told me, as she told them to Light-in-Darkness, 
also I have heard them from others, and what she did 
not tell me, that the White Kendah are great breeders 
of the beasts called camels which they sell to the Arabs 
of the north. Go not near them, for if you pass the 
desert the Black Kendah will kill you ; and if you escape 
these, then their king, Simba, will kill you ; and if 
you escape him, then their god Jana will kill you ; and 
if you escape him, then their white priests will kill you 
with their magic. Oh ! long before you look upon the 
faces of those priests you will be dead many times 

"Then why did they ask me to visit them, 
Babemba ? " 

"I know not, Macumazana, but perhaps because 
they wished to make an offering of you to the god 
Jana, whom no spear can harm ; no, nor even your 
bullets that pierce a tree." 

"I am willing to make trial of that matter," I 
answered confidently, "and any way we must go to see 
these things for ourselves." 

"Yes," echoed Ragnall, "we must certainly go," 
while even Savage, for I had been translating to them 
all this while, nodded his head although he looked as 
though he would much rather stay behind. 

"Ask him if there are any snakes there, sir," he said, 
and foolishly enough I put the question to give me time 
to think of other things. 

"Yes, O Bena. Yes, O Cock of the Ashpit," replied 

The Meeting in the Desert 131 

Babemba. "My uncle's Kendah wife told me that one 
of the guardians of the shrine of the White Kendah is 
such a snake as was never seen elsewhere in the world." 

"Then say to him, sir," said Savage when I had 
translated almost automatically, "that shrine ain't a 
church where I shall go to say my prayers." 

Alas ! poor Savage little knew the future and its 

Then we came to the question of bearers. The end 
of it was that after some hesitation Bausi II., because 
of his great affection for us, promised to provide us 
with these upon our solemnly undertaking to dismiss 
them at the borders of the desert, "so that they might 
escape our doom," as he remarked cheerfully. 

Four days later we started, accompanied by about one 
hundred and twenty picked men under the command of 
old Babemba himself, who, he explained, wished to be 
the last to see us alive in the world. This was depress- 
ing, but other circumstances connected with our start 
were calculated to weigh even more upon my spirit. 
Thus the night before we left Hans arrived and asked 
me to "write a paper" for him. I inquired what he 
wanted me to put in the paper. He replied that as he 
was going to his death and had property, namely the 
^650 which had been left in a bank to his credit, he 
desired to make a "white man's will" to be left 
in the charge of Babemba. The only provision of 
the said will was that I was to inherit his property, 
if I lived. If I died, which, he added, "of course you 
must, Baas, like the rest of us," it was to be devoted 
to furnishing poor black people in hospital with some- 
thing comforting to drink instead of the "cow's water" 
that was given to them there. Needless to say I turned 
him out at once, and that testamentary deposition re- 
mained unrecorded. Indeed it was unnecessary, since, 
as I reminded him, on my advice he had already made 

132 The Ivory Child 

a will before we left Durban, a circumstance that he 
had quite forgotten. 

The second event, which occurred about an hour 
before our departure, was, that hearing a mighty wail- 
ing in the market-place where once Hans and I had 
been tied to stakes to be shot to death with arrows, I 
went out to see what was the matter. At the gateway 
I was greeted by the sight of about a hundred old women 
plastered all over with ashes, engaged in howling their 
loudest in a melancholy unison. Behind these stood 
the entire population of Beza-Town, who chanted a 
kind of chorus. 

"What the devil are they doing? " I asked of Hans. 

"Singing our death-song, Baas," he replied stolidly, 
"as they say that where we are going no one will take 
the trouble to do so, and it is not right that great lords 
should die and the heavens above remain uninformed 
that they are coming." 

"That's cheerful," I remarked, and wheeling round, 
asked Ragnall straight out if he wished to persevere 
in this business, for to tell the truth my nerve was 

"I must," he answered simply, "but there is no 
reason why you and Hans should, or Savage either 
for the matter of that." 

"Oh ! I'm going where you go," I said, "and where 
I go Hans will go. Savage must speak for himself." 

This he did and to the same effect, being a very 
honest and faithful man. It was the more to his credit 
since, as he informed me in private, he did not enjoy 
African adventure and often dreamed at nights of his 
comfortable room at Ragnall whence he superintended 
the social activities of that great establishment. 

So we departed and marched for the matter of a 
month or more through every kind of country. After 

The Meeting in the Desert 133 

we had passed the head of the great lake wherein lay 
the island, if it really was an island, where the Pongo 
used to dwell (one clear morning through my glasses I 
discerned the mountain top that marked the former 
residence of the Mother of the Flower, and by contrast 
it made me feel quite homesick), we struck up north, 
following a route known to Babemba and our guides. 
After this we steered by the stars through a land with 
very few inhabitants, timid and nondescript folk who 
dwelt in scattered villages and scarcely understood the art 
of cultivating the soil, even in its most primitive form. 

A hundred miles or so farther on these villages 
ceased and thenceforward we only encountered some 
nomads, little bushmen who lived on game which they 
shot with poisoned arrows. Once they attacked us and 
killed two of the Mazitu with those horrid arrows, 
against the venom of which no remedy that we had in 
our medicine chest proved of any avail. On this occa- 
sion Savage exhibited his courage if not his discretion, 
for rushing out of our thorn fence, after missing a bush- 
man with both barrels at a distance of five yards he 
was, I think, the worst shot I ever saw he seized the 
little viper with his hands and dragged him back to 
camp. How Savage escaped with his life I do not know, 
for one poisoned arrow went through his hat and stuck 
in his hair and another just grazed his leg without 
drawing blood. 

This valorous deed was of great service to us, since 
we were able through Hans, who knew something of the 
bushmen's language, to explain to our prisoner that if 
we were shot at again he would be hung. This informa- 
tion he contrived to shout, or rather to squeak and grunt, 
to his amiable tribe, of which it appeared he was a kind 
of chief, with the result that we were no more molested. 
Later, when we were clear of the bushmen country, we 
let him depart, which he did with great rapidity. 

134 The Ivory Child 

By degrees the land grew more and more barren and 
utterly devoid of inhabitants, till at last it merged into 
desert. At the edge of this desert which rolled away 
without apparent limit, we came, however, to a kind of 
oasis where there was a strong and beautiful spring of 
water that formed a stream which soon lost itself in the 
surrounding sand. As we could go no farther, for even 
if we had wished to do so, and were able to find water 
there, the Mazitu refused to accompany us into the 
desert, not knowing what else to do, we camped in the 
oasis and waited. 

As it happened, the place was a kind of hunter's 
paradise, since every kind of game, large and small, 
came to the water to drink at night, and in the daytime 
browsed upon the saltish grass that at this season of the 
year grew plentifully upon the edge of the wilderness. 

Amongst other creatures there were elephants in 
plenty that travelled hither out of the bushlands we had 
passed, or sometimes emerged from the desert itself, 
suggesting that beyond this waste there lay fertile 
country. So numerous were these great beasts indeed 
that for my part I hoped earnestly that it would prove 
impossible for us to continue our journey, since I saw 
that in a few months I could collect an enormous amount 
of ivory, enough to make me comparatively rich, if only 
I were able to get it away. As it was we only killed a 
few of them, ten in all to be accurate, that we might 
send back the tusks as presents to Bausi II. To 
slaughter the poor animals uselessly was cruel, especially 
as being unaccustomed to the sight of man, they were 
as easy to approach as cows. Even Savage slew one 
by carefully aiming at another five paces to its left. 

For the rest we lived on the fat of the land and, as 
meat was necessary to us, had as much sport as we 
could desire among the various antelope. 

For fourteen days or so this went on, till at length 

we grew thoroughly tired of the business, as did the 
Mazitu, who were so gorged with flesh that they began 
to desire vegetable food. Twice we rode as far into the 
desert as we dared, for our horses remained to us and 
had grown fresh again after the rest, but only to return 
without information. The place was just a vast wilder- 
ness strewn with brown stones beautifully polished by 
the wind-driven sand of ages, and quite devoid of 

After our second trip, on which we suffered severely 
from thirst, we held a consultation. Old Babemba said 
that he could keep his men no longer, even for us, as 
they insisted upon returning home, and inquired what 
we meant to do and why we sat here "like a stone." I 
answered that we were waiting for some of the Kendah 
who had bid me to shoot game hereabouts until they 
arrived to be our guides. He remarked that the Kendah 
to the best of his belief lived in a country that was still 
hundreds of miles away and that, as they did not know 
of our presence, any communication across the desert 
being impossible, our proceedings seemed to be foolish. 

I retorted that I was not quite so sure of this, since 
the Kendah seemed to have remarkable ways of acquir- 
ing information. 

"Then, Macumazana, I fear that you will have to 
wait by yourselves until you discover which of us is 
right," he said stolidly. 

Turning to Ragnall, I asked him what he would do, 
pointing out that to journey into the desert meant death, 
especially as we did not know whither we were going, 
and that to return alone, without the stores which we 
must abandon, through the country of the bushmen to 
Mazituland, would also be a risky proceeding. How- 
ever, it was for him to decide. 

Now he grew much perturbed. Taking me apart 
again he dwelt earnestly upon his secret reasons for 

136 The Ivory Child 

wishing to visit these Kendah, with which of course I 
was already acquainted, as indeed was Savage. 

" I desire to stay here," he ended. 

"Which means that we must all stay, Ragnall, since 
Savage will not desert you. Nor will Hans desert me 
although he thinks us mad. He points out that I came 
to seek ivory and here about us is ivory in plenty for 
the trouble of taking." 

"I might remain alone, Quatermain " he began, 

but I looked at him in such a way that he never finished 
the sentence. 

Ultimately we came to a compromise. Babemba, on 
behalf of the Mazitu, agreed to wait three more days. If 
nothing happened during that period we on our part 
agreed to return with them to a stretch of well-watered 
bush about fifty miles behind us, which we knew 
swarmed with elephants, that by now were growing 
shy of approaching our oasis where there was so much 
noise and shooting. There we would kill as much ivory 
as we could carry, an operation in which they were 
willing to assist for the fun of it, and then go back with 
them to Mazituland. 

The three days went by and with every hour that 
passed my spirits rose, as did those of Savage and flans, 
while Lord Ragnall became more and more depressed. 
The third afternoon was devoted to a jubilant packing of 
loads, for in accordance with the terms of our bargain 
we were to start backwards on our spoor at dawn upon 
the morrow. Most happily did I lay myself down to 
sleep in my little bough shelter that night, feeling that 
at last I was rid of an uncommonly awkward adventure. 
If I thought that we could do any good by going on, 
it would have been another matter. But as I was certain 
that there was no earthly chance of our finding among 
the Kendah if we ever reached them the lady who had 
tumbled into the Nile in Egypt, well, I was glad that 

The Meeting in the Desert 137 

Providence had been so good as to make it impossible 
for us to commit suicide by thirst in a desert, or other- 
wise. For, notwithstanding my former reasonings to 
the contrary, I was now convinced that this was what 
had happened to poor Ragnall's wife. 

That, however, was just what Providence had not 
done. In the middle of the night, to be precise, at 
exactly two in the morning, I was awakened by Hans, 
who slept at the back of my shanty, into which he had 
crept through a hole in the faggots, exclaiming in a 
frightened voice, 

"Open your eyes and look, Baas. There are two 
spooks waiting to see you outside, Baas." 

Very cautiously I lifted myself a little and stared 
out into the moonlight. There, seated about five paces 
from the open end of the hut were the " spooks " sure 
enough, two white-robed figures squatting silent and 
immovable on the ground. At first I was frightened. 
Then I bethought me of thieves and felt for my Colt 
pistol under the rug that served me as a pillow. As I 
got hold of the handle, however, a deep voice said : 

"Is it your custom, O Macumazana, Watcher-by- 
Night, to receive guests with bullets ? " 

Now thought I to myself, who is there in the world 
who could see a man catch hold of the handle of a pistol 
in the recesses of a dark place and under a blanket at 
night, except the owner of that voice which I seemed to 
remember hearing in a certain drawing-room in 
England ? 

"Yes, Harut," I answered with an unconcerned 
yawn, "when the guests come in such a doubtful 
fashion and in the middle of the night. But as you are 
here at last, will you be so good as to tell me why you 
have kept us waiting all this time? Is that your way 
of fulfilling an engagement?" 

"O Lord Macumazana," answered Harut, for of 

138 The Ivory Child 

course it was he, in quite a perturbed tone, " I offer to 
you our humble apologies. The truth is that when we 
heard of your arrival at Beza-Town we started, or tried 
to start, from hundreds of miles away to keep our tryst 
with you here as we promised we would do. But we 
are mortal, Macumazana, and accidents intervened. 
Thus, when we had ascertained the weight of your 
baggage, camels had to be collected to carry it, which 
were grazing at a distance. Also it was necessary to 
send forward to dig out a certain well in the desert where 
they must drink. Hence the delay. Still, you will ad- 
mit that we have arrived in time, five, or at any rate 
four hours before the rising of that sun which was to 
light you on your homeward way." 

"Yes, you have, O Prophets, or O Liars, whichever 
you may be," I exclaimed with pardonable exasperation, 
for really their knowledge of my private affairs, however 
obtained, was enough to anger a saint. "So as you are 
here at last, come in and have a drink, for whether you 
are men or devils, you must be cold out there in the 

In they came accordingly and, not being Moham- 
medans, partook of a tot of square-face from a bottle 
which I kept locked in a box to put Hans beyond the 
reach of temptation. 

"To your health, Harut and Marut," I said, drinking 
a little out of the pannikin and giving the rest to Hans, 
who gulped the fiery liquor down with a smack of his 
lips. For I will admit that I joined in this unholy 
midnight potation to gain time for thought and to 
steady my nerve. 

"To your health, O Lord Macumazana," the pair 
answered as they swallowed their tots, which I had made 
pretty stiff, and set down their pannikins in front of 
them with as much reverence as though these had been 
holy vessels. 

The Meeting in the Desert 139 

"Now," I said, throwing a blanket over my 
shoulders, for the air was chilly, " now let us talk," and 
taking the lantern which Hans had thoughtfully lighted, 
I held it up and contemplated them. 

There they were, Harut and Marut without doubt, to 
all appearance totally unchanged since some years 
before I had seen them at Ragnall in England. "What 
are you doing here ? " I asked in a kind of fiery in- 
dignation inspired by my intense curiosity. "How did 
you get out of England after you had tried to steal away 
the lady to whom you sent the necklace ? What did 
you do with that lady after you had beguiled her from 
the boat at Abu-Simbel ? In the name of your Holy 
Child, or of Shaitan of the Mohammedans, or of Set 
of the Egyptians, answer me, lest I should make an 
end of both of you, which I can do here without 
any questions being asked," and I whipped out my 

"Pardon us," said Harut with a grave smile, "but 
if you were to do as you say, Lord Macumazana, many 
questions would be asked that you might find it hard to 
answer. So be pleased to put that death-dealer back 
into its place, and to tell us before we reply to you, what 
you know of Set of the Egyptians." 

"As much or as little as you do," I replied. 

Both bowed as though this information were of the 
most satisfactory order. Then Harut went on : " In reply 
to your requests, O Macumazana, we left England by a 
steamboat and in due course after long journeyings we 
reached our own country. We do not understand your 
allusions to a place called Abu-Simbel on the Nile, 
whence, never having been there, we have taken no 
lady. Indeed, we never meant to take that lady to whom 
we sent a necklace in England. We only meant to 
ask certain questions of her, as she had the gift of 
vision, when you appeared and interrupted us. What 

140 The Ivory Child 

should we want with white ladies, who have already 
far too many of our own ? " 

"I don't know," I replied, "but I do know that you 
are the biggest liars I ever met." 

At these words, which some might have thought in- 
sulting, Harut and Marut bowed again as though to 
acknowledge a great compliment. Then Harut said : 

"Let us leave the question of ladies and come to 
matters that have to do with men. You are here as we 
told you that you would be at a time when you did not 
believe us, and we are here to meet you, as we told you 
that we would be. How we knew that you were coming 
and how we came do not matter at all. Believe what 
you will. Are you ready to start with us, O Lord 
Macumazana, that you may bring to its death the wicked 
elephant Jana which ravages our land, and receive the 
great reward of ivory? If so, your camel waits." 

"One camel cannot carry four men," I answered, 
avoiding the question. 

"In courage and in skill you are more than many 
men, O Macumazana, yet in body you are but one and 
not four." 

"If you think that I am going with you alone, you 
are much mistaken, Harut and Marut," I exclaimed. 
"Here with me is my servant without whom I do not 
stir," and I pointed to Hans, whom they contemplated 
gravely. "Also there is the Lord Ragnall, who in this 
land is named Igeza, and his servant who here is named 
Bena, the man out of whom you drew snakes in the 
room in England. They also must accompany us." 

At this news the impassive countenances of Harut 
and Marut showed, I thought, some signs of disturb- 
ance. They muttered together in an unknown tongue. 
Then Harut said : 

"Our secret land is open to you alone, O Macu- 
mazana, for one purpose only to kill the elephant Jana, 

The Meeting in the Desert 141 

for which deed we promise you a great reward. We 
do not wish to see the others there." 

"Then you can kill your own elephant, Harut and 
Marut, for not one step do I go with you. Why should 
I when there is as much ivory here as I want, to be had 
for the shooting ? " 

" How if we take you, O Macumazana ? " 

" How if I kill you both, O Harut and Marut ? Fools, 
here are many brave men at my command, and if you 
or any with you want fighting it shall be given you in 
plenty. Hans, bid the Mazitu stand to their arms and 
summon Igeza and Bena." 

"Stay, Lord," said Harut, "and put down that 
weapon," for once more I had produced the pistol. 
"We would not begin our fellowship by shedding blood, 
though we are safer from you than you think. Your 
companions shall accompany you to the land of the 
Kendah, but let them know that they do so at their own 
risk. Learn that it is revealed to us that if they go in 
there some of them will pass out again as spirits but not 
as men." 

" Do you mean that you will murder them ? " 

"No. We mean that yonder are some stronger than 
us or any men, who will take their lives in sacrifice. 
Not yours, Macumazana, for that, it is decreed, is safe, 
but those of two of the others, which two we do not 

"Indeed, Harut and Marut, and how am I to be 
sure that any of us are safe, or that you do not but trick 
us to your country, there to kill us with treachery and 
steal our goods ? " 

"Because we swear it by the oath that may not be 
broken; we swear it by the Heavenly Child," both of 
them exclaimed solemnly, speaking with one voice and 
bowing till their foreheads almost touched the ground. 

I shrugged my shoulders and laughed a little. 

The Ivory Child 

"You do not believe us," went on Harut, "who 
have not heard what happens to those who break this 
oath. Come now and see something. Within five 
paces of your hut is a tall ant-heap upon which doubtless 
you have been accustomed to stand and overlook the 
desert." (This was true, but how did they guess it, I 
wondered.) "Go climb that ant-heap once more." 

Perhaps it was rash, but my curiosity led me to accept 
this invitation. Out I went, followed by Hans with a 
loaded double-barrelled rifle, and scrambled up the ant- 
heap which, as it was twenty feet high and there were 
no trees just here, commanded a very fine view of the 
desert beyond. 

"Look to the north," said Harut from its foot. 

I looked, and there in the bright moonlight five or 
six hundred yards away, ranged rank by rank upon a 
slope of sand and along the crest of the ridge beyond, 
I saw quite two hundred kneeling camels, and by each 
camel a tall, white-robed figure who held in his hand 
a long lance to the shaft of which, not far beneath the 
blade, was attached a little flag. For a while I stared 
to make sure that I was not the victim of an illusion 
or a mirage. Then when I had satisfied myself that 
these were indeed men and camels I descended from 
the ant-heap. 

"You will admit, O Macumazana," said Harut 
politely, "that if we had meant you any ill, with such 
a force it would have been easy for us to take a sleeping 
camp at night. But these men come here to be your 
escort, not to kill or enslave you or yours. And, Macu- 
mazana, we have sworn to you the oath that may not 
be broken. Now we go to our people. In the morning, 
after you have eaten, we will return again unarmed and 

Then like shadows they slipped away. 



TEN minutes later the truth was known and every man 
in the camp was up and armed. At first there were 
some signs of panic, but these with the help of Babemba 
we managed to control, setting the men to make the 
best preparations for defence that circumstances would 
allow, and thus occupying their minds. For from the 
first we saw that, except for the three of us who had 
horses, escape was impossible. That great camel corps 
could catch us within a mile. 

Leaving old Babemba in charge of his soldiers, we 
three white men and Hans held a council at which I 
repeated every word that had passed between Harut and 
Marut and myself, including their absolute denial of 
their having had anything to do with the disappearance 
of Lady Ragnall on the Nile. 

"Now," I asked, "what is to be done? My fate is 
sealed, since for purposes of their own, of which prob- 
ably we know nothing, these people intend to take me 
with them to their country, as indeed they are justified 
in doing, since I have been fool enough to keep a kind 
of assignation with them here. But they don't want 
anybody else. Therefore there is nothing to prevent 
you Ragnall, and you Savage, and you Hans, from 
returning with the Mazitu." 

"Oh ! Baas," said Hans, who could understand Eng- 
lish well enough although he seldom spoke it, "why 
are you always bothering me with such praatjes?" 
(that is, chatter). "Whatever you do I will do, and I 


144 The Ivory Child 

don't care what you do, except for your own sake, Baas. 
If I am going to die, let me die; it doesn't at all matter 
how, since I must go soon and make report to your 
reverend father, the Predikant. And now, Baas, I 
have been awake all night, for I heard those camels 
coming a long while before the two spook men appeared, 
and as I had never heard camels before, could not make 
out what they were, for they don't walk like giraffes. 
So I am going to sleep, Baas, there in the sun. When 
you have settled things, you can wake me up and give 
me your orders," and he suited the action to the word, 
for when I glanced at him again he was, or appeared 
to be, slumbering, just like a dog at its master's feet. 

I looked at Ragnall in interrogation. 

"I am going on," he said briefly. 

"Despite the denial of these men of any complicity 
in your wife's fate ? " I asked. " If their words are true, 
what have you to gain by this journey, Ragnall?" 

"An interesting experience while it lasts; that is all. 
Like Hans there, if what they say is true, my future 
is a matter of complete indifference to me. But I do 
not believe a word of what they say. Something tells 
me that they know a great deal which they do not choose 
to repeat, about my wife I mean. That is why they 
are so anxious that I should not accompany you." 

"You must judge for yourself," I answered doubt- 
fully, "and I hope to Heaven that you are judging 
right. Now, Savage, what have you decided? Re- 
member before you reply that these uncanny fellows 
declare that if we four go, two of us will never return. 
It seems impossible that they can read the future, still, 
without doubt, they are most uncanny." 

"Sir," said Savage, "I will take my chance. Before 
I left England his lordship made a provision for my 
old mother and my widowed sister and her children, 
and I have none other dependent upon me. Moreover, 

Charge ! 145 

I won't return alone with those Mazitu to become a 
barbarian, for how could I find my way back to the 
coast without anyone to guide me ? So I'll go on and 
leave the rest to God." 

"Which is just what we have all got to do," I re- 
marked. "Well, as that is settled, let us send for 
Babemba and tell him." 

This we did accordingly. The old fellow received 
the news with more resignation than I had anticipated. 
Fixing his one eye upon me, he said : 

" Macumazana, these words are what I expected from 
you. Had any other man spoken them I should 
have declared that he was quite mad. But I remember 
that I said this when you determined to visit the Pongo, 
and that you came back from their country safe and 
sound, having done wonderful things there, and that it 
was the Pongo who suffered, not you. So I believe 
it will be again, so far as you are concerned, Macu- 
mazana, for I think that some devil goes with you who 
looks after his own. For the others I do not know. 
They must settle the matter with their own devils, or 
with those of the Kendah people. Now farewell, Macu- 
mazana, for it comes to me that we shall meet no more. 
Well, that happens to all at last, and it is good to have 
known you who are so great in your own way. Often 
I shall think of you as you will think of me, and hope 
that in a country beyond that of the Kendah I may 
hear from your lips all that has befallen you on this and 
other journeys. Now I go to withdraw my men before 
these white-robed Arabs come on their strange beasts to 
seize you, lest they should take us also and there should 
be a fight in which we, being the fewer, must die. The 
loads are all in order ready to be laden on their strange 
beasts. If they declare that the horses cannot cross the 
desert, leave them loose and we will catch them and take 
them home with us, and since they are male and female, 


146 The Ivory Child 

breed young ones from them which shall be yours when 
you send for them, or Bausi the king's if you never send. 
Nay, I want no more presents who have the gun and 
the powder and the bullets you gave me, and the tusks 
of ivory for Bausi the king, and what is best of all, the 
memory of you and of your courage and wisdom. May 
these and the gods you worship befriend you. From 
yonder hill we will watch till we see that you have gone. 
Farewell," and waiting for no answer, he departed with 
the tears running from his solitary eye. 

Ten minutes later the Mazitu bearers had also saluted 
us and gone, leaving us seated in that deserted camp 
surrounded by our baggage, and so far as I was con- 
cerned, feeling most lonely. Another ten minutes went 
by which we occupied in packing our personal belong- 
ings. Then Hans, who was now washing out the coffee 
kettle at a little distance, looked up and said : 

"Here come the spook-men, Baas, the whole regi- 
ment of them." We ran and looked. It was true. 
Marshalled in orderly squadrons, the camels with their 
riders were sweeping towards us, and a fine sight the 
beasts made with their swaying necks and long, lurch- 
ing gait. About fifty yards away they halted, just where 
the stream from our spring entered the desert, and there 
proceeded to water the camels, twenty of them at a time. 
Two men, however, in whom I recognised Harut and 
MarOt, walked forward and presently were standing 
before us, bowing obsequiously. 

"Good morning, Lord," said Harut to Ragnall in 
his broken English. "So you come with Macumazana 
to call at our poor house, as we call at your fine one in 
England. You think we got the beautiful lady you 
marry, she we give old necklace. That not so. No 
white lady ever in Kendahland. We hear story from 
Macumazana and believe that lady drowned in Nile, for 
you 'member she walk much in her sleep. We very 

Charge ! 147 

sorry for you, but gods know their business. They 
leave when they will leave, and take when they will 
take. You find her again some day more beautiful 
still and with her soul come back." 

Here I looked at him sharply. I had told him 
nothing about Lady Ragnall having lost her wits. How 
then did he know of the matter ? Still I thought it best 
to hold my peace. I think that Harut saw he had made 
some mistake, for leaving the subject of Lady Ragnall, 
he went on : 

"You very welcome, O Lord, but it right tell you 
this most dangerous journey, since elephant Jana not 
like strangers, and," he continued slowly, "think no 
elephant like your blood, and all elephants brothers. 
What one hate rest hate everywhere in world. See it 
in your face that you already suffer great hurt from 
elephant, you or someone near you. Also some of 
Kendah very fierce people and love fighting, and p'raps 
there war in the land while you there, and in war people 
get killed." 

"Very good, my friend," said Ragnall, "I am pre- 
pared to take my chance of these things. Either we all 
go to your country together, as Macumazana has ex- 
plained to you, or none of us go." 

"We understand. That our bargain and we no 
break word," replied Harut. 

Then he turned his benevolent gaze upon Savage, 
and said: "So you come too, Mr. Bena. That your 
name here, eh ? Well, you learn lot things in Kendah- 
land, about snakes and all rest." 

Here the joviaPooking Marut whispered something 
into the ear of his companion, smiling all over his face 
and showing his white teeth as he did so. "Oh ! " went 
on HarOt, "my brother tell me you meet one snake 
already, down in country called Natal, but sit on him 
so hard, that he grow quite flat and no bite." 

148 The Ivory Child 

"Who told him that?" gasped Savage. 

"Oh! forget. Think Macumazana. No? Then 
p'raps you tell him in sleep, for people talk much in 
sleep, you know, and some other people got good ears 
and hear long way. Or p'raps little joke Harut. You 
'member, he first-rate conjurer. P'raps he send that 
snake. No trouble if know how. Well, we show you 
much better snake Kendahland. But you no sit on 
him, Mr. Bena." 

To me, I know not why, there was something 
horrible in all this jocosity, something that gave me the 
creeps as always does the sight of a cat playing with a 
mouse. I felt even then that it foreshadowed terrible 
things. How could these men know the details of occur- 
rences at which they were not present and of which no 
one had told them? Did that strange "tobacco" of 
theirs really give them some clairvoyant power, I 
wondered, or had they other secret methods of obtaining 
news ? I glanced at poor Savage and perceived that he 
too felt as I did, for he had turned quite pale beneath 
his tan. Even Hans was affected, for he whispered to 
me in Dutch: "These are not men; these are devils, 
Baas, and this journey of ours is one into hell." 

Only Ragnall sat stern, silent and apparently quite 
unmoved. Indeed there was something almost sphinx- 
like about the set and expression of his handsome face. 
Moreover, I felt sure that Harut and Marut recognised 
the man's strength and determination and that he was 
one with whom they must reckon seriously. Beneath 
all their smiles and courtesies I could read this know- 
ledge in their eyes; also that it was causing them grave 
anxiety. It was as though they knew that here was one 
against whom their power had no avail, whose fate was 
the master of their fate. In a sense Harut admitted 
this to me, for suddenly he looked up and said in a 
changed voice and in Bantu : 

Charge! 149 

"You are a good reader of hearts, O Macumazana, 
almost as good as I am. But remember that there is 
One Who writes upon the book of the heart, Who is 
the Lord of us who do but read, and that what He 
writes, that will befall, strive as we may, for in His 
hand is the future." 

"Quite so," I replied coolly, "and that is why I am 
going with you to Kendahland and fear you not at 

"So it is and so let it be," he answered. "And now, 
Lords, are you ready to start ? For long is the road and 
who knows what awaits us ere we see its end ? " 

"Yes," I replied, "long is the road of life and who 
knows what awaits us ere we see its end and after ? " 

Three hours later I halted the splendid white riding- 
camel upon which I was mounted, and looked back 
from the crest of a wave of the desert. There far behind 
us on the horizon, by the help of my glasses, I could 
make out the site of the camp we had left and even the 
tall ant-hill whence I had gazed in the moonlight at 
our mysterious escort which seemed to have sprung from 
the desert as though by magic. 

This was the manner of our march : A mile or so 
ahead of us went a picket of eight or ten men mounted 
on the swiftest beasts, doubtless to give warning of any 
danger. Next, three or four hundred yards away, fol- 
lowed a body of about fifty Kendah, travelling in a 
double line, and behind these the baggage men, 
mounted like everyone else, and leading behind them 
strings of camels laden with water, provisions, tents of 
skin and all our goods, including the fifty rifles and the 
ammunition that Ragnall had brought from England. 
Then came we three white men and Hans, each of us 
riding as swift and fine a camel as Africa can breed. 
On our right at a distance of about half a mile, and 

150 The Ivory Child 

also on our left, travelled other bodies of the Kendah 
of the same numerical strength as that ahead, while the 
rear was brought up by the remainder of the company 
who drove a number of spare camels. 

Thus we journeyed in the centre of a square whence 
any escape would have been impossible, for I forgot 
to say that our keepers Harut and Marut rode exactly 
behind us, at such a distance that we could call to them 
if we wished. 

At first I found this method of travelling very tiring, 
as does everyone who is quite unaccustomed to camel- 
back. Indeed the swing and the jolt of the swift 
creature beneath me seemed to wrench my bones asunder 
to such an extent that at the beginning I had once or 
twice to be lifted from the saddle when, after hours of 
torture, at length we camped for the night. Poor 
Savage suffered even more than I did, for the motion 
reduced him to a kind of jelly. Ragnall, however, who 
I think had ridden camels before, felt little inconveni- 
ence, and the same may be said of Hans, who rode in 
all sorts of positions, sometimes sideways like a lady, 
and at others kneeling on the saddle like a monkey on 
a barrel-organ. Also, being very light and tough as 
rimpis, the swaying motion did not seem to affect him. 

By degrees all these troubles left us to such an 
extent that I could cover my fifty miles a day, more or 
less, without even feeling tired. Indeed I grew to like 
the life in that pure and sparkling desert air, perhaps 
because it was so restful. Day after day we journeyed 
on across the endless, sandy plain, watching the sun 
rise, watching it grow high, watching it sink again. 
Night after night we ate our simple food with appetite 
and slept beneath the glittering stars till the new dawn 
broke in glory from the bosom of the immeasurable 

We spoke but little during all this time. It was as 

Charge ! 151 

though the silence of the wilderness had got hold of us 
and sealed our lips. Or perhaps each of us was occupied 
with his own thoughts. At any rate I know that for 
my part I seemed to live in a kind of dreamland, think- 
ing of the past, reflecting much upon the innumerable 
problems of this passing show called life, but not paying 
much heed to the future. What did the future matter 
to me, who did not know whether I should have a share 
of it even for another month, or week, or day, sur- 
rounded as I was by the shadow of death? No, I 
troubled little as to any earthly future, although I 
admit that in this oasis of calm I reflected upon that 
state where past, present and future will all be one ; also 
that those reflections, which were in their essence a kind 
of unshaped prayer, brought much calm to my spirit. 

With the regiment of escort we had practically no 
communication ; I think that they had been forbidden to 
talk to us. They were a very silent set of men, finely- 
made, capable persons of an Arab type, light rather than 
dark in colour, who seemed for the most part to com- 
municate with each other by signs or in low-muttered 
words. Evidently they looked upon Harut and MarOt 
with great veneration, for any order which either of 
these brethren gave, if they were brethren, was obeyed 
without dispute or delay. Thus, when I happened to 
mention that I had lost a pocket-knife at one of our 
camping-places two days' journey Back, three of them, 
much against my wish, were ordered to return to look 
for it, and did so, making no question. Eight days 
later they rejoined us much exhausted and having lost 
a camel, but with the knife, which they handed to me 
with a low bow; and I confess that I felt ashamed to 
take the thing. 

Nor did we exchange many further confidences with 
Harut and Marut. Up to the time of our arrival at the 
boundaries of the Kendah country, our only talk with 

152 The Ivory Child 

them was of the incidents of travel, of where we should 
camp, of how far it might be to the next water, for 
water-holes or old wells existed in this desert, of such 
birds as we saw, and so forth. As to other and more 
important matters a kind of truce seemed to prevail. 
Still, I observed that they were always studying us, and 
especially Lord Ragnall, who rode oh day after day, 
self-absorbed and staring straight in front of him as 
though he looked at something we could not see. 

Thus we covered hundreds of miles, not less than 
five hundred at the least, reckoning our progress at only 
thirty miles a day, including stoppages. For occasion- 
ally we stopped at the water-holes or small oases, where 
the camels drank and rested. Indeed, these were so 
conveniently arranged that I came to the conclusion 
that once there must have been some established route 
running across these wastelands to the south, of which 
the traditional knowledge remained with the Kendah 
people. If so, it had not been used for generations, 
for save those of one or two that had died on the out- 
ward march, we saw no skeletons of camels or other 
beasts, or indeed any sign of man. The place was an 
absolute wilderness where nothing lived except a few 
small mammals at the oases and the birds that passed 
over it in the air on their way to more fertile regions. 
Of these, by the way, I saw many that are known both 
to Europe and Africa, especially ducks and cranes; 
also storks that, for aught I can say, may have come 
from far-off, homely Holland. 

At last the character of the country began to change. 
Grass appeared on its lower lying stretches, then bushes, 
then occasional trees and among the trees a few buck. 
Halting the caravan I crept out and shot two of these 
buck with a right and left, a feat that caused our grave 
escort to stare in a fashion which showed me that they 
had never seen anything of the sort done before. 

Charge ! 153 

That night, while we were eating the venison with 
relish, since it was the first fresh meat that we had tasted 
for many a day, I observed that the disposition of our 
camp was different from its common form. Thus it 
was smaller and placed on an eminence. Also the 
camels were not allowed to graze where they would as 
usual, but were kept within a limited area while their 
riders were arranged in groups outside of them. 
Further, the stores were piled near our tents, in the 
centre, with guards set over them. I asked Harut and 
Marut, who were sharing our meal, the reason of these 

"It is because we are on the borders of the Kendah 
country," answered old Harut. "Four days more march 
will bring us there, Macumazana." 

"Then why should you take precautions against your 
own people? Surely they will welcome you." 

" With spears perhaps. Macumazana, learn that the 
Kendah are not one but two people. As you may 
have heard before, we are the White Kendah, but there 
are also the Black Kendah who outnumber us many 
times over, though in the beginning we from the north 
conquered them, or so says our history. The White 
Kendah have their own territory ; but as there is no other 
road, to reach it we must pass through that of the Black 
Kendah, where it is always possible that we may be at- 
tacked, especially as we bring strangers into the land." 

"How is it then that the Black Kendah allow you 
to live at all, Harut, if they are so much the more 
numerous? " 

"Because of fear, Macumazana. They fear our 
wisdom and the decrees of the Heavenly Child spoken 
through the mouth of its oracle, which, if it is offended, 
can bring a curse upon them. Still, if they find us 
outside our borders they may kill us, if they can, as we 
may kill them if we find them within our borders." 

154 The Ivory Child 

"Indeed, Harut. Then it looks to me as though 
there were a war breeding between you." 

"A war is breeding, Macumazana, the last great 
war in which either the White Kendah or the Black 
Kendah must perish. Or perhaps both will die to- 
gether. Maybe that is the real reason why we have 
asked you to be our guest, Macumazana," and with 
their usual courteous bows, both of them rose and 
departed before I could reply. 

"You see how it stands," I said to Ragnall. "We 
have been brought here to fight for our friends, Harut, 
Marut and Co., against their rebellious subjects, or 
rather the king who reigns jointly with them." 

"It looks like it," he replied quietly, "but doubtless 
we shall find out the truth in time and meanwhile 
speculation is no good. Do you go to bed, Quatermain, 
I will watch till midnight and then wake you." 

That night passed in safety. Next day we marched 
before the dawn, passing through country that grew 
continually better watered and more fertile, though it 
was still open plain but sloping upwards ever more 
steeply. On this plain I saw herds of antelopes and 
what in the distance looked like cattle, but no human 
being. Before evening we camped where there was 
good water and plenty of food for the camels. 

While the camp was being set Harut came and in- 
vited us to follow him to the outposts, whence he said 
we should see a view. We walked with him, a matter 
of not more than a quarter of a mile to the head of that 
rise up which we had been travelling all day, and thence 
perceived one of the most glorious prospects on which 
my eyes have fallen in all great Africa. From where 
we stood the land sloped steeply for a matter of ten or 
fifteen miles, till finally the fall ended in a vast plain 
like to the bottom of a gigantic saucer, that I presume 
in some far time of the world's history was once an 

Charge ! 155 

enormous lake. A river ran east and west across this 
plain and into it fell tributaries. Far beyond this river 
the contours of the country rose again till, many, many 
miles away, there appeared a solitary hill, tumulus- 
shaped, which seemed to be covered with bush. 

Beyond and surrounding this hill was more plain 
which with the aid of my powerful glasses was, we 
could see, bordered at last by a range of great moun- 
tains, looking like a blue line pencilled across the 
northern distance. To the east and west the plain 
seemed to be illimitable. Obviously its soil was of a 
most fertile character and supported numbers of in- 
habitants, for everywhere we could see their kraals or 
villages. Much of it to the west, however, was covered 
with dense forest with, to all appearance, a clearing in 
its midst. 

" Behold the land of the Kendah," said Harut. "On 
this side of the River Tava live the Black Kendah, on 
the farther side, the White Kendah." 

"And what is that hill ? " I asked. 

"That is the Holy Mount, the Home of the Heavenly 
Child, where no man may set foot" here he looked at 
us meaningly "save the priests ol the Child." 

"What happens to him if he does?" I asked. 

"He dies, my Lord Macumazana." 

"Then it is guarded, Harut?" 

"It is guarded, not with mortal weapons, Macu- 
mazana, but by the spirits that watch over the Child." 

As he would say no more on this interesting matter, 
I asked him as to the numbers of the Kendah people, 
to which he replied that the Black Kendah might 
number twenty thousand men of arm-bearing age, but 
the White Kendah not more than two thousand. 

"Then no wonder you want spirits to guard your 
Heavenly Child," I remarked, "since the Black Kendah 
are your foes and with you warriors are few." 

156 The Ivory Child 

At this moment our conversation was interrupted by 
the arrival of a picket on a camel, who reported some- 
thing to Harut which appeared to disturb him. I asked 
him what was the matter. 

"That is the matter," he said pointing to a man 
mounted on a rough pony who just then appeared from 
behind some bushes about half a mile away, galloping 
down the slope towards the plain. "He is one of the 
scouts of Simba, King of the Black Kendah, and he 
goes to Simba's town in yonder forest to make report 
of our arrival. Return to camp, Macumazana, and eat, 
for we must march with the rising of the moon." 

As soon as the moon rose we marched accordingly, 
although the camels, many of which were much worn 
with the long journey, scarcely had been given time 
to fill themselves and none to rest. All night we 
marched down the long slope, only halting for half an 
hour before daylight to eat something and rearrange 
the loads on the baggage beasts, which now, I noticed, 
were guarded with extra care. When we were starting 
again MarOt came to us and remarked with his usual 
smile, on behalf of his brother HarCit, who was other- 
wise engaged, that it might be well if we had our guns 
ready, since we were entering the land of the elephant 
Jana and "who knew but that we might meet him ? " 

"Or his worshippers on two legs," I suggested, to 
which his only reply was a nod. 

So we got our repeating rifles, some of the first that 
were ever made, serviceable but rather complicated 
weapons that fired five cartridges. Hans, however, with 
my permission, armed himself with the little Purdey 
piece that was named "Intombi," the single-barrelled, 
muzzle-loading gun which had done me so much service 
in earlier days, and even on my last journey to Pongo- 
land. He said that he was accustomed to it and did 
not understand these new-fangled breechloaders, also 

Charge ! 157 

that it was "lucky." I consented as I did not think that 
it made much difference with what kind of rifle Hans 
was provided. As a marksman he had this peculiarity : 
up to a hundred yards or so h was an excellent shot, 
but beyond that distance no good at all. 

A quarter of an hour later, as the dawn was breaking, 
we passed through a kind of nek of rough stones border- 
ing the flat land, and emerged in a compact body on to 
the edge of the grassy plain. Here the word was given 
to halt for a reason that became clear to me so soon as I 
was out of the rocks. For there, marching rapidly, not 
half a mile away, were some five hundred white-robed 
men. A large proportion of these were mounted, the 
rest being foot-soldiers, of whom more were running up 
every minute, appearing out of bush that grew upon the 
hillside, apparently to dispute our passage. These 
people, who were black-faced with fuzzy hair upon 
which they wore no head-dress, all seemed to be armed 
with spears. 

Presently from out of the mass of them two horse- 
men dashed forward, one of whom bore a white flag 
in token that they came to parley. Our advance guard 
allowed them to pass and they galloped on, dodging 
in and out between the camels with wonderful skill till 
at length they came to where we were with Harut and 
Marut, and pulling up their horses so sharply that 
the animals almost sat down on their haunches, saluted 
by raising their spears. They were very fine-looking 
fellows, perfectly black in colour with a negroid cast of 
countenance and long frizzled hair which hung down 
on to their shoulders. Their clothing was light, con- 
sisting of hide riding breeches that resembled bathing 
drawers, sandals, and an arrangement of triple chains 
which seemed to be made of some silvery metal that 
hung from their necks across the breast and back. Their 
arms consisted of a long lance similar to that carried by 

158 The Ivory Child 

the White Kendah, and a straight, cross-handled sword 
suspended from a belt. This, as I ascertained afterwards, 
was the regulation cavalry equipment among these 
people. The footmen carried a shorter spear, a round 
leather shield, two throwing javelins or assegais, and a 
curved knife with a horn handle. 

" Greeting, Prophets of the Child ! " cried one of 
them. "We are messengers from the god Jana who 
speaks through the mouth of Simba the King." 

"Say on, worshippers of the devil Jana. What 
word has Simba the King for us ? " answered Harut. 

"The word of war, Prophet. What do you beyond 
your southern boundary of the Tava river in the terri- 
tory of the Black Kendah, that was sealed to them by 
pact after the battle of a hundred years ago ? Is not all 
the land to the north as far as the mountains and beyond 
the mountains enough for you ? Simba the King let 
you go out, hoping that the desert would swallow you, 
but return you shall not." 

"That we shall know presently," replied Harut in a 
suave voice. "It depends upon whether the Heavenly 
Child or the devil Jana is the more powerful in the land. 
Still, as we would avoid bloodshed if we may, we desire 
to explain to you, messengers of King Simba, that we 
are here upon a peaceful errand. It was necessary that 
we should convey the white lords to make an offering 
to the Child, and this was the only road by which we 
could lead them to the Holy Mount, since they come 
from the south. Through the forests and the swamps 
that lie to the east and west camels cannot travel." 

" And what is the offering that the white men would 
make to the Child, Prophet ? Oh ! we know well, for 
like you we have our magic. The offering that they 
must make is the blood of Jana our god, which you 
have brought them here to kill with their strange 
weapons, as though any weapon could prevail against 

Charge ! 159 

Jana the god. Now, give to us these white men that 
we may offer them to the god, and perchance Simba the 
King will let you go through." 

"Why?" asked Harut, "seeing that you declare that 
the white men cannot harm Jana, to whom indeed they 
wish no harm. To surrender them to you that they 
may be torn to pieces by the devil Jana would be to 
break the law of hospitality, for they are our guests. 
Now return to Simba the King, and say to Simba that 
if he lifts a spear against us the threefold curse of the 
Child shall fall upon him and upon you his people : The 
curse of Heaven by storm or by drought. The curse of 
famine. The curse of war. I the prophet have spoken. 

Watching, I could see that this ultimatum de- 
livered by Harut in a most impressive voice, and 
seconded as it was by the sudden and simultaneous 
lifting of the spears of all our escort. that were within 
hearing, produced a considerable effect upon the 
messengers. Their faces grew afraid and they shrank 
a little. Evidently the "threefold curse of the Child" 
suggested calamities which they dreaded. Making no 
answer, they wheeled their horses about and galloped 
back to the force that was gathering below as swiftly as 
they had come. 

"We must fight, my Lord Macumazana," said 
Harut, "and if we would live, conquer, as I know that 
we shall do." 

Then he issued some orders, of which the result was 
that the caravan adopted a wedge-shaped formation like 
to that of a great flock of wildfowl on the wing. Harut 
stationed himself almost at the apex of the triangle. I 
with Hans and Marut were set about the centre of the 
left line, while Ragnall and Savage were placed oppo- 
site to us in the right line, the whole width of the wedge 
being between us. The baggage camels and their 

160 The Ivory Child 

leaders occupied the middle space between the lines and 
were followed by a small rear-guard. 

At first we white men were inclined to protest at this 
separation, but when Marut explained to us that its 
object was to give confidence to the two divisions of the 
force and also to minimise the risk of destruction or 
capture of all three of us, of course we had nothing more 
to say. So we just shook hands, and with as much 
assurance as we could command wished each other 
well through the job. 

Then we parted, poor Savage looking very limp 
indeed, for this was his first experience of war. Rag- 
nail, however, who came of an old fighting stock, seemed 
to be happy as a king. I who had known so many 
battles, was the reverse of happy, for inconveniently 
enough there flashed into my mind at this juncture the 
dying words of the Zulu captain and seer, Mavovo, 
which foretold that I too should fall far away in war; 
and I wondered whether this were the occasion that had 
been present to his foreseeing mind. 

Only Hans seemed quite unconcerned. Indeed I 
noted that he took the opportunity of the halt to fill and 
light his large corn-cob pipe, a bit of bravado in the 
face of Providence for which I could have kicked him 
had he not been perched in his usual monkey fashion 
on the top of a very tall camel. The act, however, 
excited the admiration of the Kendah, for I heard one 
of them call to the others : 

"Look ! He is not a monkey after all, but a man- 
more of a man than his master." 

The arrangements were soon made. Within a 
quarter of an hour of the departure of the messengers 
Harut, after bowing thrice towards the Holy Mountain, 
rose in his stirrups and shaking a long spear above his 
head, shouted a single word : 

"Charge I" 



THE ride that followed was really quite exhilarating. 
The camels, notwithstanding their long journey, seemed 
to have caught some of the enthusiasm of the war- 
horse as described in the Book of Job; indeed I had 
no idea that they could travel at such a rate. On we 
swung down the slope, keeping excellent order, the 
forest of tall spears shining and the little lancer-like 
pennons fluttering on the breeze in a very gallant way. 
In silence we went save for the thudding of the hoofs 
of the camels and an occasional squeal of anger as some 
rider drove his lance handle into their ribs. Not until 
we actually joined battle did a single man open his lips. 
Then, it is true, there went up one simultaneous and 
mighty roar of : 

"The Child! Death to Jana ! The Child! the 
Child ! " 

But this happened a few minutes later. 

As we drew near the enemy I saw that they had 
massed their footmen in a dense body, six or eight lines 
thick. There they stood to receive the impact of our 
charge, or rather they did not all stand, for the first two 
ranks were kneeling with long spears stretched out in 
front of them. I imagine that their appearance must 
have greatly resembled that of the Greek phalanx, or 
that of the Swiss prepared to receive cavalry in the 
Middle Ages. On either side of this formidable body, 
which by now must have numbered four or five hundred 
men, and at a distance perhaps of a quarter of a mile 

L 161 

162 The Ivory Child 

from them, were gathered the horsemen of the Black 
Kendah, divided into two bodies of nearly equal 
strength, say about a hundred horse in each body. 

As we approached, our triangle curved a little, no 
doubt under the direction of Harut. A minute or so 
later I saw the reason. It was that we might strike the 
foot soldiers not full in front but at an angle. It was 
an admirable manoeuvre, for when presently we did 
strike, we caught them slightly on the flank and 
crumpled them up. My word ! we went through those 
fellows like a knife through butter; they had as much 
chance against the rush of our camels as a brown-paper 
screen has against a typhoon. Over they rolled in 
heaps while the White Kendah spitted them with their 

"The Child is top dog ! My money on the Child," 
reflected I in irreverent ecstasy. But that exultation 
was premature, for those Black Kendah were by no 
means all dead. Presently I saw that scores of them 
had appeared among the camels, which they were en- 
gaged in stabbing, or trying to stab, in the stomach 
with their spears. Also I had forgotten the horsemen. 
As our charge slackened owing to the complication in 
front, these arrived on our flanks like two thunderbolts. 
We faced about and did our best to meet the onslaught, 
of which the net result was that both our left and right 
lines were pierced through about fifty yards behind 
the baggage camels. Luckily for us the very im- 
petuosity of the Black Kendah rush deprived it of most 
of the fruits of victory, since the two squadrons, being 
unable to check their horses, ended by charging into 
each other and becoming mixed in inextricable con- 
fusion. Then, I do not know who gave the order, we 
wheeled our camels in and fell upon them, a struggling, 
stationary mass, with the result that many of them were 
speared, or overthrown and trampled. 

Allan is Captured 163 

I have said we, but that is not quite correct, at any 
rate so far as Marut, Hans, I and about fifteen camel- 
men were concerned. How it happened I could not tell 
in that dust and confusion, but we were cut off from the 
main body and presently found ourselves fighting des- 
perately in a group at which Black Kendah horsemen 
were charging again and again. We made the best 
stand we could. By degrees the bewildered camels sank 
under the repeated spear-thrusts of the enemy, all 
except one, oddly enough that ridden by Hans, which 
by some strange chance was never touched. The rest of 
us were thrown or tumbled off the camels and continued 
the fight from behind their struggling bodies. 

That is where I came in. Up to this time I had not 
fired a single shot, partly because I do not like missing, 
which it is so easy to do from the back of a swaying 
camel, and still more for the reason that I had not the 
slightest desire to kill any of these savage men unless I 
were obliged to do so in self-defence. Now, however, the 
thing was different, as I was fighting for my life. Lean- 
ing against my camel, which was dying and beating its 
head upon the ground, groaning horribly the while, I 
emptied the five cartridges of the repeater into those 
Black Kendah, pausing between each shot to take aim, 
with the result that presently five riderless horses were 
galloping loose about the veld. 

The effect was electrical, since our attackers had never 
seen anything of the kind before. For a while they all 
drew off, which gave me time to reload. Then they 
came on again and I repeated the process. For a second 
time they retreated and after consultation which lasted 
for a minute or more, made a third attack. Once more 
I saluted them to the best of my ability, though on this 
occasion only three men and a horse fell. The fifth shot 
was a clean miss because they came on in such a scat- 
tered formation that I had to turn from side to side to fire. 

164 The Ivory Child 

Now at last the game was up, for the simple reason 
that I had no more cartridges save two in my double- 
barrelled pistol. It may be asked why. The answer is, 
want of foresight. Too many cartridges in one's 
pocket are apt to chafe on camel-back and so is a belt 
full of them. In those days also the engagements were 
few in which a man fired over fifteen. I had forty or 
fifty more in a bag, which bag Savage with his usual 
politeness had taken and hung upon his saddle without 
saying a word to me. At the beginning of the action 
I found this out, but could not then get them from him 
as he was separated from me. Hans, always careless in 
small matters, was really to blame as he ought to have 
seen that I had the cartridges, or at any rate to have 
carried them himself. In short, it was one of those 
accidents that will happen. There is nothing more to 
be said. 

After a still longer consultation our enemies ad- 
vanced on us for the fourth time, but very slowly. 
Meanwhile I had been taking stock of the position. The 
camel corps, or what was left of it, oblivious of our 
plight which the dust of conflict had hidden from them, 
was travelling on to the north, more or less victorious. 
That is to say, it had cut its way through the Black 
Kendah and was escaping unpursued, huddled up in a 
mob with the baggage animals safe in its centre. The 
Black Kendah themselves were engaged in killing our 
wounded and succouring their own; also in collecting 
the bodies of the dead. In short, quite unintentionally, 
we were deserted. Probably, if anybody thought about 
us at all in the turmoil of desperate battle, they con- 
cluded that we were among the slain. 

Marut came up to me, unhurt, still smiling and 
waving a bloody spear. 

"Lord Macumazana," he said, "the end is at hand. 
The Child has saved the others, or most of them, but 

Allan is Captured 165 

us it has abandoned. Now what will you do? Kill 
yourself, or if that does not please you, suffer me to 
kill you ? Or shoot on until you must surrender ? " 

"I have nothing to shoot with any more," I 
answered. "But if we surrender, what will happen 
to us?" 

"We shall be taken to Simba's town and there 
sacrificed to the devil Jana I have not time to tell you 
how. Therefore I propose to kill myself." 

"Then I think you are foolish, Marut, since once 
we are dead, we are dead; but while we are alive it is 
always possible that we may escape from Jana. If the 
worst comes to the worst I have a pistol with two bullets 
in it, one for you and one for me." 

"The wisdom of the Child is in you," he replied. 
"I shall surrender with you, Macumazana, and take 
my chance." 

Then he turned and explained things to his fol- 
lowers, who spoke together for a moment. In the end 
these took a strange and, to my mind, a very heroic 
decision. Waiting till the attacking Kendah were 
quite close to us, with the exception of three men, who 
either because they lacked courage or for some other 
reason, stayed with us, they advanced humbly as 
though to make submission. A number of the Black 
Kendah dismounted and ran up, I suppose to take them 
prisoners. The men waited till these were all round 
them. Then with a yell of "The Child ! " they sprang 
forward, taking the enemy unawares and fighting like 
demons, inflicted great loss upon them before they fell 
themselves covered with wounds. 

" Brave men indeed ! " said Marut approvingly. 
"Well, now they are all at peace with the Child, where 
doubtless we shall find them ere long." 

I nodded but answered nothing. To tell the truth, 
I was too much engaged in nursing the remains of my 

166 The Ivory Child 

own courage to enter into conversation about that of 
other people. 

This fierce and cunning stratagem of desperate men 
which had cost their enemies so dear, seemed to 
infuriate the Black Kendah. 

At us came the whole mob of them we were but 
six now roaring "Jana! Jana ! " and led by a grey- 
beard who, to judge from the number of silver chains 
upon his breast and his other trappings, seemed to be 
a great man among them. When they were about 
fifty yards away and I was preparing for the worst, a 
shot rang out from above and behind me. At the same 
instant Greybeard threw his arms wide and letting fall 
the spear he held, pitched from his horse, evidently 
stone dead. I glanced back and saw Hans, the corn-cob 
pipe still in his mouth and the little rifle, " Intombi," still 
at his shoulder. He had fired from the back of the 
camel, I think for the first time that day, and whether 
by chance or through good marksmanship, I do not 
know, had killed this man. 

His sudden and unexpected end seemed to fill the 
Black Kendah with grief and dismay. Halting in their 
charge they gathered round him, while a fierce-looking 
middle-aged man, also adorned with much barbaric 
finery, dismounted to examine him. 

"That is Simba the King," said Marut, "and the 
slain one is his uncle, Goru, the great general who 
brought him up from a babe." 

"Then I wish I had another cartridge left for the 
nephew," I began and stopped, for Hans was speaking 
to me. 

"Good-bye, Baas," he said, "I must go, for I cannot 
load ' Intombi ' on the back of this beast. If you meet 
your reverend father the Predikant before I do, tell him 
to make a nice place ready for me among the fires." 

Then before I could get out an answer, Hans 

Allan is Captured 167 

dragged his camel round; as I have said, it was quite 
uninjured. Urging it to a shambling gallop with 
blows of the rifle stock, he departed at a great rate, 
not towards the home of the Child but up the hill into a 
brake of giant grass mingled with thorn trees that grew 
quite close at hand. Here with startling suddenness 
both he and the camel vanished away. 

If the Black Kendah saw him go, of which I am 
doubtful, for they all seemed to be lost in consultation 
round their king and the dead general, Goru, they made 
no attempt to follow him. Another possibility is that 
they thought he was trying to lead them into some 
snare or ambush. 

I do not know what they thought because I never 
heard them mention Hans or the matter of his disap- 
pearance, if indeed they ever realised that there was such 
a person. Curiously enough in the case of men who had 
just shown themselves so brave, this last accident of 
the decease of Goru coming on the top of all their other 
casualties, seemed to take the courage out of them. It 
was as though they had come to the conclusion that we 
with our guns were something more than mortal. 

For several minutes they debated in evident hesita- 
tion. At last from out of their array rode a single man, 
in whom I recognised one of the envoys who had met 
us in the morning, carrying in his hand a white flag 
as he had done before. Thereon I laid down my rifle 
in token that I would not fire at him, which indeed I 
could not do having nothing to fire. Seeing this he 
came to within a few yards and halting, addressed 

"O second Prophet of the Child," he said, "these 
are the words of Simba the King : Your god has been 
too strong for us to-day, though in a day to come it 
may be otherwise. I thought I had you in a pit; that 
you were the bucks and I the hunter. But, though with 

168 The Ivory Child 

loss, you have escaped out of the pit," and the speaker 
glanced towards our retreating force which was now 
but a cloud of dust in the far distance, "while I the 
hunter have been gored by your horns," and again he 
glanced at the dead that were scattered about the plain. 
"The noblest of the buck, the white bull of the herd," 
and he looked at me, who in any other circumstances 
would have felt complimented, "and you, O Prophet 
Marut, and one or two others, besides those that I have 
slain, are however still in the pit and your horn is a 
magic horn," here he pointed to my rifle, "which pierces 
from afar and kills dead all by whom it is touched." 

"So I caught those gentry well in the middle," 
thought I to myself, "and with soft-nosed bullets!" 

"Therefore I, Simba the King, make you an offer. 
Yield yourselves and I swear that no spear shall be 
driven through your hearts and no knife come near 
your throats. You shall only be taken to my town 
and there be fed on the best and kept as prisoners, till 
once more there is peace between the Black Kendah 
and the White. If you refuse, then I will ring you 
round and perhaps in the dark rush on you and kill 
you all. Or perhaps I will watch you from day to day 
till you, who have no water, die of thirst in the heat of 
the sun. These are my words to which nothing may 
be added and from which nothing shall be taken away." 

Having finished this speech he rode back a few 
yards out of earshot, and waited. 

"What will you answer, Lord Macumazana? " asked 

I replied by another question. " Is there any chance 
of our being rescued by your people ? " 

He shook his head. "None. What we have seen 
to-day is but a small part of the army of the Black 
Kendah, one regiment of foot and one of horse, that 
are always ready. By to-morrow thousands will be 

Allan is Captured 169 

gathered, many more than we can hope to deal with in 
the open and still less in their strongholds, also Harut 
will believe that we are dead. Unless the Child saves 
us we shall be left to our fate." 

"Then it seems that we are indeed in a pit, as that 
black brute of a king puts it, Marut, and if he does 
what he says and rushes us at sundown, everyone of us 
will be killed. Also I am thirsty already and there is 
nothing to drink. But will this king keep his word? 
There are other ways of dying besides by steel." 

"I think that he will keep his word, but as that 
messenger said, he will not add to his word. Choose 
now, for see, they are beginning to hedge us round." 

"What do you say, men ? " I asked of the three who 
had remained with us. 

"We say, Lord, that we are in the hands of the 
Child, though we wish now that we had died with our 
brothers," answered their spokesman fatalistically. 

So after Marut and I had consulted together for a 
little as to the form of his reply, he beckoned to the 
messenger and said : 

"We accept the offer of Simba, although it would 
be easy for this lord to kill him now where he stands, 
namely, to yield ourselves as prisoners on his oath that 
no harm shall come to us. For know that if harm 
does come, the vengeance will be terrible. Now in 
proof of his good faith, let Simba draw near and drink 
the cup of peace with us, for we thirst." 

"Not so," said the messenger, "for then that white 
lord might kill him with his tube. Give me the tube 
and Simba shall come." 

"Take it," I said magnanimously, handing him the 
rifle, which he received in a very gingerly fashion. 
After all, I reflected, there is nothing much more useless 
than a rifle without ammunition. 

Off he went holding the weapon at arm's length, 

170 The Ivory Child 

and presently Simba himself, accompanied by some of 
his men, one of whom carried a skin of water and 
another a large cup hollowed from an elephant's tusk, 
rode up to us. This Simba was a fine and rather ter- 
rifying person with a large moustache and a chin shaved 
except for a little tuft of hair which he wore at its 
point like an Italian. His eyes were big and dark, 
frank-looking, yet now and again with a sinister 
expression in the corners of them. He was not nearly 
so black as most of his followers; probably in bygone 
generations his blood had been crossed with that of the 
White Kendah. He wore his hair long without any 
head-dress, held in place by a band of gold which I 
suppose represented a crown. On his forehead was a 
large white scar, probably received in some battle. 
Such was his appearance. 

He looked at me with great curiosity, and I have 
often wondered since what kind of an impression I 
produced upon him. My hat had fallen off, or I had 
knocked it off when I fired my last cartridges into his 
people, and forgotten to replace it, and my intractable 
hair, which was longer than usual, had not been recently 
brushed. My worn Norfolk jacket was brown with 
blood from a wounded or dying man who had tumbled 
against me in the scrimmage when the cavalry charged 
us, and my right leg and boot were stained in a similar 
fashion from having rubbed against my camel where a 
spear had entered it. Altogether I must have appeared 
a most disreputable object. 

Some indication of his opinion was given, however, 
in a remark, which of course I pretended not to under- 
stand, that I overheard him make to one of his officers : 

"Truly," he said, "we must not always look to the 
strong for strength. And yet this little white porcupine 
is strength itself, for see how much damage he has 
wrought us. Also consider his eyes that appear to 

Allan is Captured 171 

pierce everything. Jana himself might fear those eyes. 
Well, time that grinds the rocks will tell us all." 

All of this I caught perfectly, my ears being very 
sharp, although he thought that he spoke out of my 
hearing, for after spending a month in their company 
I understood the Kendah dialect of Bantu very well. 

Having delivered himself thus he rode nearer and 
said : 

"You, Prophet Marut, my enemy, have heard the 
terms of me, Simba the King, and have accepted them. 
Therefore discuss them no more. What I have 
promised I will keep. What I have given I give, 
neither greater nor less by the weight of a hair." 

"So be it, O King," answered Marut with his usual 
smile, which nothing ever seemed to disturb. "Only 
remember that if those terms are broken either in the 
letter or in the spirit, especially the spirit " (that is the 
best rendering I can give of his word), "the manifold 
curses of the Child will fall upon you and yours. Yes, 
though you should kill us all by treachery, still those 
curses will fall." 

"May Jana take the Child and all who worship it," 
exclaimed the king with evident irritation. 

"In the end, O King, Jana will take the Child and 
its followers or the Child will take Jana and his fol- 
lowers. Which of these things must happen is known 
to the Child alone, and perchance to its prophets. Mean- 
while, for every one of those of the Child I think that 
three of the followers of Jana, or more, lie dead upon 
this field. Also the caravan is now out of your reach 
with two of the white lords and many of such tubes 
which deal death, like that which we have surrendered 
to you. Therefore because we are helpless, do not think 
that the Child is helpless. Jana must have been asleep, 
O King, or you would have set your trap better." 

I thought that this coolly insolent speech would 

172 The Ivory Child 

have produced some outburst, but in fact it seemed to 
have an opposite effect. Making no reply to it, Simba 
said almost humbly : 

" I come to drink the cup of peace with you and the 
white lord, O Prophet. Afterwards we can talk. Give 
me water, slave." 

Then a man filled the great ivory cup with water 
from the skin he carried. Simba took it and having 
sprinkled a little upon the ground, I suppose as an 
offering, drank from the cup, doubtless to show that 
it was not poisoned. Watching carefully, I made sure 
that he swallowed what he drank by studying the 
motions of his throat. Then he handed the cup with 
a bow to Marut, who with a still deeper bow passed it to 
me. Being absolutely parched I absorbed about a pint 
of it, and feeling a new man, passed the horn to Marut, 
who swallowed the rest. Then it was filled again for our 
three White Kendah, the King first tasting the water as 
before, after which Marut and I had a second pull. 

When at length our thirst was satisfied, horses were 
brought to us, serviceable and docile little beasts with 
sheepskins for saddles and loops of hide for stirrups. 
On these we mounted and for the next three hours 
rode across the plain, surrounded by a strong escort and 
with an armed Black Kendah running on each side of 
our horses and holding in his hand a thong attached 
to the ring of the bridle, no doubt to prevent any 
attempt to escape. 

Our road ran past but not through some villages 
whence we saw many women and children staring at 
us, and through beautiful crops of mealies and other 
sorts of grain that in this country were now just ripen- 
ing. The luxuriant appearance of these crops suggested 
that the rains must have been plentiful and the season 
all that could be desired. From some of the villages 
by the track arose a miserable sound of wailing. 

Allan is Captured 173 

Evidently their inhabitants had already heard that cer- 
tain of their menkind had fallen in that morning's fight. 

At the end of the third hour we began to enter the 
great forest which I had seen when first we looked 
down on Kendahland. It was filled with splendid 
trees, most of them quite strange to me, but perhaps 
because of the denseness of their overshadowing crowns 
there was comparatively no undergrowth. The general 
effect of the place was very gloomy, since little light 
could pass through the interlacing foliage of the tops 
of those mighty trees. 

Towards evening we came to a clearing in this forest, 
it may have been four or five miles in diameter, but 
whether it was natural or artificial I am not sure. I 
think, however, that it was probably the former for 
two reasons : the hollow nature of the ground, which 
lay a good many feet lower than the surrounding forest, 
and the wonderful fertility of the soil, which suggested 
that it had once been deposited upon an old lake bottom. 
Never did I see such crops as those that grew upon 
that clearing; they were magnificent. 

Wending our way along the road that ran through 
the tall corn, for here every inch was cultivated, we 
came suddenly upon the capital of the Black Kendah, 
which was known as Simba Town. It was a large place, 
somewhat different from any other African settlement 
with which I am acquainted, inasmuch as it was not 
only stockaded but completely surrounded by a broad 
artificial moat filled with water from a stream that ran 
through the centre of the town, over which moat there 
were four timber bridges placed at the cardinal points 
of the compass. These bridges were strong enough to 
bear horses or stock, but so made that in the event of 
attack they could be destroyed in a few minutes. 

Riding through the eastern gate, a stout timber 
structure on the farther side of the corresponding bridge, 

174 The Ivory Child 

where the king was received with salutes by an armed 
guard, we entered one of the two main streets of the 
town which ran from north to south and from east to 
west. It was broad and on either side of it were the 
dwellings of the inhabitants set close together because 
the space within the stockade was limited. These were 
not huts but square buildings of mud with flat roofs of 
some kind of cement. Evidently they were built upon 
the model of Oriental and North African houses of 
which some debased tradition remained with these 
people. Thus a stairway or ladder ran from the in- 
terior to the roof of each house, whereon its inhabitants 
were accustomed, as I discovered afterwards, to sleep 
during a good part of the year, also to eat in the cool 
of the day. Many of them were gathered there now 
to watch us pass, men, women and children, all except 
the little ones decently clothed in long garments of 
various colours, the women for the most part in white 
and the men in a kind of bluish linen. 

I saw at once that they had already heard of the 
fight and of the considerable losses which their people 
had sustained, for their reception of us prisoners was 
most unfriendly. Indeed the men shook their fists at 
us, the women screamed out curses, while the children 
stuck out their tongues in token of derision or defiance. 
Most of these demonstrations, however, were directed 
at Marut and his followers, who only smiled 
indifferently. At me they stared in wonder not 
unmixed with fear. 

A quarter of a mile or so from the gate we came to 
an inner enclosure, that answered to the South African 
cattle kraal, surrounded by a dry ditch and a timber 
palisade outside of which was planted a green fence 
of some shrub with long white thorns. Here we passed 
through more gates, to find ourselves in an oval space, 
perhaps five acres in extent. Evidently this served as 

Allan is Captured 175 

a market ground, but all round it were open sheds 
where hundreds of horses were stabled. No cattle 
seemed to be kept here, except a few that with sheep 
and goats were driven in every day for slaughter pur- 
poses at a shambles at the north end, from the great 
stock-kraals built beyond the forest to the south, where 
they were safe from possible raiding by the White 

A tall reed fence cut off the southern end of this 
market-place, outside of which we were ordered to dis- 
mount. Passing through yet another gate we found 
within the fence a large hut or house built on the same 
model as the others in the town, which Marut whis- 
pered to me was that of the king. Behind it were 
smaller houses in which lived his queen and women, 
good-looking females, who advanced to meet him with 
obsequious bows. To the right and left were two more 
buildings of about equal size, one of which was occupied 
by the royal guard and the other was the guest-house 
whither we were conducted. 

It proved to be a comfortable dwelling about thirty 
feet square but containing only one room, with various 
huts behind it that served for cooking and other pur- 
poses. In one of these the three camelmen were 
placed. Immediately on our arrival food was brought 
to us, a lamb or kid roasted whole upon a wooden 
platter, and some green mealie-cobs boiled upon another 
platter; also water to drink and wash with in earthen- 
ware jars of sun-dried clay. 

I ate heartily, for I was starving. Then, as it was 
useless to attempt precautions against murder, without 
any talk to my fellow prisoner, for which we were 
both too tired, I threw myself down on a mattress 
stuffed with corn husks in a corner of the hut, drew 
a skin rug over me and, having commended myself 
to the protection of the Power above, fell fast asleep. 



THE next thing I remember was feeling upon my face 
the sunlight that poured through a window-place which 
was protected by immovable wooden bars. For a while 
I lay still, reflecting as memory returned to me, upon 
all the events of the previous day and upon my present 
unhappy position. Here I was a prisoner in the hands 
of a horde of fierce savages who had every reason to 
hate me, for, though this was done in self-defence, had 
I not killed a number of their people against whom 
personally I had no quarrel ? It was true that their 
king had promised me safety, but what reliance could 
be put upon the word of such a man ? Unless some- 
thing occurred to save me, without doubt my days were 
numbered. In this way or in that I should be murdered, 
which served me right for ever entering upon such a 

The only satisfactory point in the story was, that 
for the present at any rate, Ragnall and Savage had 
escaped, though doubtless sooner or later fate would 
overtake them also. I was sure that they had escaped, 
since two of the camelmen captured with us had in- 
formed Marut that they saw them swept away sur- 
rounded by our people and quite unharmed. Now they 
would be grieving over my death, since none survived 
who could tell them of our capture, unless the Black 
Kendah chose to do so, which was not likely. I won- 
dered what course they would take when Ragnall found 
that his quest was vain, as of course must happen. 


The First Curse 177 

Try to get out of the country, I suppose, as I prayed 
they might succeed in doing, though this was most 

Then there was Hans. He of course would attempt 
to retrace our road across the desert, if he had got clear 
away. Having a good camel, a rifle and some ammu- 
nition, it was just possible that he might win through, 
as he never forgot a path which he had once travelled, 
though probably in a week's time a few bones upon the 
desert would be all that remained of him. Well, as he 
had suggested, perhaps we should soon be talking the 
event over in some far sphere with my father and 
others. Poor old Hans ! 

I opened my eyes and looked about me. The first 
thing I noticed was that my double-barrelled pistol, 
which I had placed at full cock beside me before I went 
to sleep, was gone, also my large clasp-knife. This 
discovery did not tend to raise my spirits, since now I 
was quite weaponless. Then I observed Marut seated 
on the floor of the hut in the shadow staring straight 
in front of him, and noted that at length even he had 
ceased to smile, but that his lips moved as though he 
were engaged in prayer or meditation. 

"Marut," I said, "someone has been in this place 
while we were asleep and stolen my pistol and knife." 

"Yes, Lord," he answered, "and my knife also. I 
saw them come in the middle of the night, two men 
who walked softly as cats, and searched everything." 

"Then why did you not wake me?" 

" What would have been the use, Lord ? If we had 
caught hold of the men, they would have called out and 
we should have been murdered at once. It was best 
to let them take the things, which after all are of no 
good to us here." 

"The pistol might have been of some good," I 
replied significantly. 

178 The Ivory Child 

"Yes," he said nodding, "but at the worst death is 
easy to find." 

"Do you think, Marut, that we could manage to let 
Harut and the others know our plight? That smoke 
which I breathed in England, for instance, seemed to 
show me far-off things if we could get any of it." 

"The smoke was nothing, Lord, but some harmless 
burning powder which clouded your mind for a minute 
and enabled you to see the thoughts that were in our 
minds. We drew the pictures at which you looked. 
Also here there is none." 

"Oh!" I said, "the old trick of suggestion; just 
what I imagined. Then there's an end of that, and as 
the others will think that we are dead and we cannot 
communicate with them, we have no hope except in 

"Or the Child," suggested Marut gently. 

"Look here!" I said with irritation. "After you 
have just told me that your smoke vision was a mere 
conjurer's trick, how do you expect me to believe in 
your blessed Child? Who is the Child? What is 
the Child, and this is more important what can it 
do ? As your throat is going to be cut shortly you may 
as well tell me the truth." 

"Lord Macumazana, I will. Who and what the 
Child is I cannot say because I do not know. But it 
has been our god for thousands of years, and we believe 
that our remote forefathers brought it with them when 
they were driven out of Egypt at some time unknown. 
We have writings concerning it done up in little rolls, 
but as we cannot read them they are of no use to us. 
It has an hereditary priesthood, of which Harut my 
uncle, for he is my uncle, is the head. We believe that 
the Child is God, or rather a symbol in which God 
dwells, and that it can save us in this world and the 
next, for we hold that man is an immortal spirit. We 

The First Curse 179 

believe also that through its Oracle a priestess who is 
called Guardian of the Child it can declare the future 
and bring blessings or curses upon men, especially upon 
our enemies. When the Oracle dies we are helpless 
since the Child has no ' mouth ' and our enemies 
prevail against us. This happened a long while ago, 
and the last Oracle, having declared before her death 
that her successor was to be found in England, my 
uncle and I travelled thither disguised as conjurers and 
made search for many years. We thought that we 
had found the new Oracle in the lady who married the 
Lord Igeza, because of that mark of the new moon upon 
her neck. After our return to Africa, however, for as 
I have spoken of this matter I may as well tell you all," 
here he stared me full in the eyes and spoke in a clear, 
metallic voice which somehow no longer convinced me, 
"we found that we had made a mistake, for the real 
Oracle, a mere girl, was discovered among our own 
people, and has now been for two years installed in her 
office. Without doubt the last Guardian of the Child 
was wandering in her mind when she told us that story 
before her death as to a woman in England, a country 
of which she had heard through Arabs. That is all." 

"Thank you," I replied, feeling that it would be 
useless to show any suspicion of his story. "Now will 
you be so good as to tell me who and what is the god, 
or the elephant Jana, whom you have brought me here 
to kill? Is the elephant a god, or is the god an 
elephant? In either case what has it to do with the 

"Lord, Jana among us Kendah represents the evil 
in the world, as the Child represents the good. Jana 
is he whom the Mohammedans call Shaitan and the 
Christians call Satan, and our forefathers, the old 
Egyptians, called Set." 

"Ah ! " thought I to myself, "now we have got it. 

i8o The Ivory Child 

Horus the Divine Child, and Set the evil monster, 
with whom it strives everlastingly." 

"Always," went on Marut, "there has been war 
between the Child and Jana, that is, between Good and 
Evil, and we know that in the end one of them must 
conquer the other." 

"The whole world has known that from the begin- 
ning," I interrupted. "But who and what is this 

"Among the Black Kendah, Lord, Jana is an 
elephant, or at any rate his symbol is an elephant, a 
very terrible beast to which sacrifices are made, that 
kills all who do not worship him if he chances to meet 
them. He lives farther on in the forest yonder, and 
the Black Kendah make use of him in war, for the devil 
in him obeys their priests." 

"Indeed, and is this elephant always the same?" 

"I cannot tell you, but for many generations it has 
been the same, for it is known by its size and by the 
fact that one of its tusks is twisted downwards." 

"Well," I remarked, "all this proves nothing, since 
elephants certainly live for at least two hundred years, 
and perhaps much longer. Also, after they become 
' rogues ' they acquire every kind of wicked and un- 
natural habit, as to which I could tell you lots of 
stories. Have you ever seen this elephant?" 

"No, Macumazana," he answered with a shiver. "If 
I had seen it should I have been alive to-day? Yet I 
fear I am fated to see it ere long, not alone," and again 
he shivered, looking at me in a very suggestive manner. 

At this moment our conversation was interrupted by 
the arrival of two Black Kendahs who brought us our 
breakfast of porridge and a boiled fowl, and stood there 
while we ate it. For my part I was not sorry, as I had 
learned all I wanted to know of the theological opinions 
and practice of the land, and had come to the conclusion 

The First Curse 181 

that the terrible devil-god of the Black Kendah was 
merely a rogue elephant of unusual size and ferocity, 
which under other circumstances it would have given 
me the greatest pleasure to try to shoot. 

When we had finished eating, that is soon, for neither 
of our appetites was good that morning, we walked out 
of the house into the surrounding compound and visited 
the camelmen in their hut. Here we found them 
squatted on the ground looking very depressed indeed. 
When I asked them what was the matter they replied, 
"Nothing," except that they were men about to die and 
life was pleasant. Also they had wives and children 
whom they would never see again. 

Having tried to cheer them up to the best of my 
ability, which I fear I did without conviction, for in 
my heart I agreed with their view of the case, we re- 
turned to the guest-house and mounted the stair which 
led to the flat roof. Hence we saw that some curious 
ceremony was in progress in the centre of the market- 
place. At that distance we could not make out the details, 
for I forgot to say that my glasses had been stolen with 
the pistol and knife, probably because they were sup- 
posed te be lethal weapons or instruments of magic. 

A rough altar had been erected, on which a fire 
burned. Behind it the king, Simba, was seated on a 
stool with various councillors about him. In front of 
the altar was a stout wooden table, on which lay what 
looked like the body of a goat or a sheep. A fantastic- 
ally dressed man, assisted by other men, appeared to 
be engaged in inspecting the inside of this animal with, 
we gathered, unsatisfactory results, for presently he 
raised his arms and uttered a loud wail. Then the 
creature's viscera were removed from it and thrown upon 
the fire, while the rest of the carcass was carried off. 

I asked Marut what he thought they were doing. 
He replied dejectedly : 

i8 2 The Ivory Child 

"Consulting their Oracle; perhaps as to whether we 
should live or die, Macumazana." 

Just then the priest in the strange, feathered attire 
approached the king, carrying some small object in his 
hand. I wondered what it could be, till the sound of 
a report reached my ears and I saw the man begin to 
jump round upon one leg, holding the other with both 
his hands at the knee and howling loudly. 

" Ah ! " I said, " that pistol was full cocked, and the 
bullet has got him in the foot." 

Simba shouted out something, whereon a man picked 
up the pistol and threw it into the fire, round which the 
others gathered to watch it burn. 

"You wait," I said to Marut, and as I spoke the 
words the inevitable happened. 

Off went the other barrel of the pistol, which hopped 
out of the fire with the recoil like a living thing. But 
as it happened one of the assistant priests was standing 
in front of the mouth of that barrel, and he also hopped 
once, but never again, for the heavy bullet struck him 
somewhere in the body and killed him. Now there was 
consternation. Everyone ran away, leaving the dead 
man lying on the ground. Simba led the rout and the 
head-priest brought up the rear, skipping along upon 
one leg. 

Having observed these events, which filled me with 
an unholy joy, we descended into the house again as 
there was nothing more to see, also because it occurred 
to me that our presence on the roof, watching their dis- 
comfiture, might irritate these savages. About ten 
minutes later the gate of the fence round the guest-house 
was thrown open, and through it came four men 
carrying on a stretcher the body of the priest whom 
the bullet had killed, which they laid down in front of 
our door. Then followed the king with an armed 
guard, and after him the befeathered diviner with his 

The First Curse 183 

foot bound up, who supported himself upon the 
shoulders of two of his colleagues. This man, I now 
perceived, wore a hideous mask, from which projected 
two tusks in imitation of those of an elephant. Also 
there were others, as many as the space would hold. 

The king called to us to come out of the house, 
which, having no choice, we did. One glance at him 
showed me that the man was frantic with fear, or rage, 
or both. 

" Look upon your work, magicians ! " he said in a 
terrible voice, pointing first to the dead priest, then to 
the diviner's wounded foot. 

"It is no work of ours, King Simba," answered 
Marut. "It is your own work. You stole the magic 
weapon of the white lord and made it angry, so that it 
has revenged itself upon you." 

"It is true," said Simba, "that the tube has killed one 
of those who took it away from you and wounded the 
other" (here was luck indeed). "But it was you who 
ordered it to do so, magicians. Now, hark ! Yesterday 
I promised you safety, that no spear should pierce your 
hearts and no knife come near your throats, and drank 
the cup of peace with you. But you have broken the 
pact, working us more harm, and therefore it no longer 
holds, since there are many other ways in which men 
can die. Listen again ! This is my decree. By your 
magic you have taken away the life of one of my ser- 
vants and hurt another of my servants, destroying the 
middle toe of his left foot. If within three days you 
do not give back the life to him who seems to be dead, 
and give back the toe to him who seems to be hurt, 
as you well can do, then you shall join those whom 
you have slain in the land of death, how I will not tell 

Now when I heard this amazing sentence I gasped 
within myself, but thinking it better to keep up my 

184 The Ivory Child 

role of understanding nothing of their talk, I preserved 
an immovable countenance and left Marut to answer. 
This, to his credit be it recorded, he did with his 
customary pleasant smile. 

"O King," he said, "who can bring the dead back 
to life ? Not even the Child itself, at any rate in this 
world, for there is no way." 

"Then, Prophet of the Child, you had better find a 
way, or, I repeat, I send you to join them," he shouted, 
rolling his eyes. 

"What did my brother, the great Prophet, promise 
to you but yesterday, O King, if you harmed us?" 
asked Marut. "Was it not that the three great curses 
should fall upon your people. Learn now that if so 
much as one of us is murdered by you, these things 
shall swiftly come to pass. I, Marut, who am also a 
Prophet of the Child, have said it." 

Now Simba seemed to go quite mad, so mad that 
I thought all was over. He waved his spear and 
danced about in front of us, till the silver chains clanked 
upon his breast. He vituperated the Child and its 
worshippers, who, he declared, had worked evil on the 
Black Kendah for generations. He appealed to his 
god Jana to avenge these evils, "to pierce the Child 
with his tusks, to tear it with his trunk, and to trample 
it with his feet," all of which the wounded diviner ably 
seconded through his horrid mask. 

There we stood before him, I leaning against the 
wall of the house with an air of studied nonchalance 
mingled with mild interest, at least that is what I meant 
to do, and Marut smiling sweetly and staring at the 
heavens. Whilst I was wondering what exact portion 
of my frame was destined to become acquainted with 
that spear, of a sudden Simba gave it up. Turning to 
his followers, he bade them dig a hole in the corner of 
our little enclosure and set the dead man in it, "with 

The First Curse 185 

his head out so that he may breathe," an order which 
they promptly executed. 

Then he issued a command that we should be well 
fed and tended, and remarking that if the departed was 
not alive and healthy on the third morning from that 
day, we should hear from him again, he and his com- 
pany stalked off, except those men who were occupied 
with the interment. 

Soon this was finished also. There sat the de- 
ceased buried to the neck with his face looking 
towards the house, a most disagreeable sight. Pres- 
ently, however, matters were improved in this respect 
by one of the sextons fetching a large earthenware pot 
and several smaller pots full of food and water. The 
latter they set round the head, I suppose for the susten- 
ance of the body beneath, and then placed the big 
vessel inverted over all, "to keep the sun off our sleep- 
ing brother," as I heard one say to the other. 

This pot looked innocent enough when all was done, 
like one of those that gardeners in England put over 
forced rhubarb, no more. And yet, such is the strength 
of the imagination, I think that on the whole I should 
have preferred the object underneath naked and un- 
adorned. For instance, I have forgotten to say that 
the heads of those of the White Kendah who had fallen 
in the fight had been set up on poles in front of Simba's 
house. They were unpleasant to contemplate, but to 
my mind not so unpleasant as that pot. 

As a matter of fact, this precaution against injury 
from the sun to the late diviner proved unnecessary, 
since by some strange chance from that moment the sun 
ceased to shine. Quite suddenly clouds arose which 
gradually covered the whole sky and the weather began 
to turn very cold, unprecedently so, Marut informed 
me, for the time of year, which, it will be remembered, 
in this country was the season just before harvest. 

186 The Ivory Child 

Obviously the Black Kendah thought so also, since from 
our seats on the roof, whither we had retreated to be as 
far as possible from the pot, we saw them gathered in 
the market-place, staring at the sky and talking to each 

The day passed without any further event, except 
the arrival of our meals, for which we had no great 
appetite. The night came, earlier than usual because 
of the clouds, and we fell asleep, or rather into a series 
of dozes. Once I thought that I heard someone stirring 
in the huts behind us, but as it was followed by silence 
I took no more notice. At length the light broke very 
slowly, for now the clouds were denser than ever. 
Shivering with the cold, Marut and I made a visit to 
the camel-drivers, who were not allowed to enter our 
house. On going into their hut we saw to our horror 
that only two of them remained, seated stonily upon the 
floor. We asked where the third was. They replied 
they did not know. In the middle of the night, they 
said, men had crept in, who seized, bound and gagged 
him, then dragged him away. As there was nothing 
to be said or done, we returned to breakfast filled with 
horrid fears. 

Nothing happened that day except that some priests 
arrived, lifted the earthenware pot, examined their de- 
parted colleague, who by now had become an unen- 
couraging spectacle, removed the old dishes of food, 
arranged more about him, and went off. Also the 
clouds grew thicker and thicker, and the air more and 
more chilly, till, had we been in any northern latitude, 
I should have said that snow was pending. From our 
perch on the roof-top I observed the population of 
Simba Town discussing the weather with ever-increas- 
ing earnestness; also that the people going out to work 
in the fields wore mats over their shoulders. 

Once more darkness came, and this night, notwith- 

The First Curse 187 

standing the cold, we spent wrapped in rugs on the 
roof of the house. It had occurred to us that kidnap- 
ping would be less easy there, as we could make some 
sort of a fight at the head of the stairway, or, if the 
worst came to the worst, dive from the parapet and 
break our necks. We kept watch turn and turn about. 
During my watch about midnight I heard a noise going 
on in the hut behind us; scuffling and a stifled cry 
which turned my blood cold. About an hour later a 
fire was lighted in the centre of the market-place where 
the sheep had been sacrificed, and by the flare of it I 
could see people moving. But what they did I could 
not see, which was perhaps as well. 

Next morning only one of the camelmen was left. 
This remaining man was now almost crazy with fear, 
and could give no clear account of what had happened 
to his companion. 

The poor fellow implored us to take him away to our 
house, as he feared to be left alone with "the black 
devils." We tried to do so but armed guards appeared 
mysteriously and thrust him back into his own hut. 

This day was an exact repetition of the others. The 
same inspection of the deceased and renewal of his 
food; the same cold, clouded sky, the same agitated 
conferences in the market-place. 

For the third time darkness fell upon us in that 
horrible place. Once more we took refuge on the roof, 
but this night neither of us slept. We were too cold, 
too physically miserable, and too filled with mental 
apprehensions. All nature seemed to be big with im- 
pending disaster. The sky appeared to be sinking 
down upon the earth. The moon was hidden, yet a 
faint and lurid light shone now in one quarter. of the 
horizon, now in another. There was no wind, but the 
air moaned audibly. It was as though the end of the 
world were near as, I reflected, probably might be the 

188 The Ivory Child 

case so far as we were concerned. Never, perhaps, have 
I felt so spiritually terrified as I was during the dreadful 
inaction of that night. Even if I had known that I was 
going to be executed at dawn, I think that by com- 
parison I should have been lighthearted. But the 
worst part of the business was that I knew nothing. I 
was like a man forced to walk through dense darkness 
among precipices, quite unable to guess when my 
journey would end in space, but enduring all the agonies 
of death at every step. 

About midnight again we heard that scuffle and 
stifled cry in the hut behind us. 

"He's gone," I whispered to Marut, wiping the cold 
sweat from my brow. 

"Yes," answered Marut, "and very soon we shall 
follow him, Macumazana." 

I wished that his face were visible so that I could 
see if he still smiled when he uttered those words. 

An hour or so later the usual fire appeared in the 
market-place, round which the usual figures flitted 
dimly. The sight of them fascinated me, although I 
did not want to look, fearing what I might see. 
Luckily, however, we were too far off to discern any- 
thing at night. 

While these unholy ceremonies were in progress the 
climax came, that is so far as the weather was concerned. 
Of a sudden a great gale sprang up, a gale of icy wind 
such as in Southern Africa sometimes precedes a 
thunderstorm. It blew for half an hour or more, then 
lulled. Now lightning flashed across the heavens, and 
by the glare of it we perceived that all the population of 
Simba Town seemed to be gathered in the market-place. 
At least there were some thousands of them, talking, 
gesticulating, pointing at the sky. 

A few minutes later there came a great crash of 
thunder, of which it was impossible to locate the sound, 

The First Curse 189 

for it rolled from everywhere. Then suddenly some- 
thing hard struck the roof by my side and rebounded, 
to be followed next moment by a blow upon my 
shoulder which nearly knocked me flat, although I was 
well protected by the skin rugs. 

" Down the stair ! " I called. " They are stoning 
us," and suited the action to the word. 

Ten seconds later we were both in the room, 
crouched in its farther corner, for the stones or what- 
ever they were seemed to be following us. I struck 
a match, of which fortunately I had some, together with 
my pipe and a good pocketful of tobacco my only 
solace in those days and, as it burned up, saw first 
that blood was running down Marut's face, and 
secondly, that these stones were great lumps of ice, 
some of them weighing several ounces, which hopped 
about the floor like live things. 

" Hailstorm ! " remarked Marut with his accustomed 

"Hell storm ! " I replied, "for whoever saw hail like 
that before ? " 

Then the match burnt out and conversation came to 
an end for the reason that we could no longer hear each 
other speak. The hail came down with a perpetual, 
rattling roar, that in its sum was one of the most 
terrible sounds to which I ever listened. And yet above 
it I thought that I could catch another, still more 
terrible, the wail of hundreds of people in agony. After 
the first few minutes I began to be afraid that the roof 
would be battered in, or that the walls would crumble 
beneath this perpetual fire of the musketry of heaven. 
But the cement was good and the place well built. 

So it came about that the house stood the tempest, 
which had it been roofed with tiles or galvanised iron 
I am sure it would never have done, since the lumps 
of ice must have shattered the one and pierced the other 

The Ivory Child 

like paper. Indeed I have seen this happen in a bad 
hailstorm in Natal which killed my best horse. But 
even that hail was as snowflakes compared to this. 

I suppose that this natural phenomenon continued 
for about twenty minutes, not more, during ten of which 
it was at its worst. Then by degrees it ceased, the sky 
cleared and the moon shone out beautifully. We 
climbed to the roof again and looked. It was several 
inches deep in jagged ice, while the market-place and 
all the country round appeared in the bright moon- 
light to be buried beneath a veil of snow. 

Very rapidly, as the normal temperature of that warm 
land reasserted itself, this snow or rather hail melted, 
causing a flood of water which, where there was any 
fall, began to rush away with a gurgling sound. Also 
we heard other sounds, such as that from the galloping 
hoofs of many of the horses which had broken loose 
from their wrecked stables at the north end of the 
market-place, where in great number they had been 
killed by the falling roofs or had kicked each other 
to death, and a wild universal wail that rose from 
every quarter of the big town, in which quantities of 
the worst-built houses had collapsed. Further, lying 
here and there about the market-place we could see 
scores of dark shapes that we knew to be those of men, 
women and children, whom those sharp missiles hurled 
from heaven had caught before they could escape and 
slain, or wounded almost to death. For it will be re- 
membered that perhaps not fewer than two thousand 
people were gathered on this market-place, attending 
the horrid midnight sacrifice and discussing the un- 
natural weather when the storm burst upon them 
suddenly as an avalanche. 

"The Child is small, yet its strength is great. 
Behold the first curse ! " said Marut solemnly. 

I stared at him, but as he chose to believe that a 

The First Curse 191 

very unusual hailstorm was a visitation from heaven I 
did not think it worth while arguing the point. Only 
I wondered if he really did believe this. Then I re- 
membered that such an event was said to have afflicted 
the old Egyptians in the hour of their pride because 
they would not "let the people go." Well, these black- 
guardly Black Kendah were certainly worse than the 
Egyptians can ever have been ; also they would not let 
us go. It was not wonderful therefore that Marut 
should be the victim of phantasies on the matter. 

Not until the following morning did we come to 
understand the full extent of the calamity which had 
overtaken the Black Kendah. I think I have said that 
their crops this year were magnificent and just ripening 
to harvest. From our roof on previous days we could 
see a great area of them stretching to the edge of the 
forest. When the sun rose that morning this area had 
vanished, and the ground was covered with a carpet of 
green pulp. Also the forest itself appeared suddenly 
to have experienced the full effects of a northern winter. 
Not a leaf was left upon the trees, which stood there 
pointing their naked boughs to heaven. 

No one who had not seen it could imagine the de- 
vastating fury of that storm. For example, the head 
of the diviner who was buried in the courtyard awaiting 
resurrection through our magic was, it may be recalled, 
covered with a stout earthenware pot. Now that pot 
had shattered into sherds and the head beneath was 
nothing but bits of broken bone which it would have 
been impossible for the very best magic to reconstruct 
to the likeness of a human being. 

Calamity indeed stalked naked through the land. 



No breakfast was brought to us that morning, prob- 
ably for the reason that there was none to bring. This 
did not matter, however, seeing that plenty of food 
accumulated from supper and other meals stood in a 
corner of the house practically untouched. So we ate 
what we could and then paid our usual visit to the hut 
in which the camelmen had been confined. I say had 
been, for now it was quite empty, the last poor fellow 
having vanished away like his companions. 

The sight of this vacuum filled me with a kind of 

"They have all been murdered ! " I said to Marut. 

"No," he replied with gentle accuracy. "They 
have been sacrificed to Jana. What we have seen on 
the market-place at night was the rite of their sacrifice. 
Now it will be our turn, Lord Macumazana." 

"Well," I exclaimed, "I hope these devils are satis- 
fied with Jana's answer to their accursed offerings, and 
if they try their fiendish pranks on us " 

" Doubtless there will be another answer. But, Lord, 
the question is, will that help us ? " 

Dumb with impotent rage I returned to the house, 
where presently the remains of the reed gate opened. 
Through it appeared Simba the King, the diviner with 
the injured foot walking upon crutches, and others of 
whom the most were more or less wounded, presumably 
by the hailstones. Then it was that in my wrath I 
put off the pretence of not understanding their language 


Jana 193 

and went for them before they could utter a single 

" Where are our servants, you murderers ? " I asked, 
shaking my fist at them. "Have you sacrificed them 
to your devil-god? If so, behold the fruits of sacri- 
fice ! " and I swept my arm towards the country beyond. 
"Where are your crops?" I went on. "Tell me on 
what will you live this winter ? " (At these words they 
quailed. In their imagination already they saw famine 
stalking towards them.) "Why do you keep us here? 
Is it that you wait for a worse thing to befall you ? Why 
do you visit us here now ? " and I paused, gasping with 

"We came to look whether you had brought back 
to life that doctor whom you killed with your magic, 
white man," answered the king heavily. 

I stepped to the corner of the courtyard and, drawing 
aside a mat that I had thrown there, showed them what 
lay beneath. 

"Look then," I said, "and be sure that if you do 
not let us go, as yonder thing is, so shall all of you be 
before another moon has been born and died. Such 
is the life we shall give to evil men like you." 

Now they grew positively terrified. 

"Lord," said Simba, for the first time addressing 
me by a title of respect, "your magic is too strong for 
us. Great misfortune has fallen upon our land. 
Hundreds of people are dead, killed by the ice-stones 
that you have called down. Our harvest is ruined, 
and there is but little corn left in the store-pits now 
when we looked to gather the new grain. Messengers 
come in from the outlying land telling us that nearly 
all the sheep and goats and very many of the cattle 
are slain. Soon we shall starve." 

"As you deserve to starve," I answered. "Now 
will you let us go ? " 


i 9 4 The Ivory Child 

Simba stared at me doubtfully, then began to 
whisper into the ear of the lamed diviner. I could not 
catch what they said, so I watched their faces. That 
of the diviner, whose head I was glad to see had been 
cut by a hailstone so that both ends of him were now 
injured, told me a good deal. His mask had been 
ugly, but now that it was off the countenance beneath 
was far uglier. Of a negroid type, pendulous-lipped, 
sensuous and loose-eyed, he was indeed a hideous fellow, 
yet very cunning and cruel-looking, as men of his class 
are apt to be. Humbled as he was for the moment, I 
felt sure that he was still plotting evil against us, some- 
what against the will of his master. The issue showed 
that I was right. At length Simba spoke, saying : 

"We had intended, Lord, to keep you and the priest 
of the Child here as hostages against mischief that 
might be worked on us by the followers of the Child, 
who have always been our bitter enemies and done us 
much undeserved wrong, although on our part we have 
faithfully kept the pact concluded in the days of our 
grandfathers. It seems, however, that fate, or your 
magic, is too strong for us, and therefore I have deter- 
mined to let you go. To-night at sundown we will 
set you on the road which leads to the ford of the River 
Tava, which divides our territory from that of the White 
Kendah, and you may depart where you will, since 
our wish is that never again may we see your ill-omened 

At this intelligence my heart leapt in joy that was 
altogether premature. But preserving my indignant 
air, I exclaimed : 

"To-night! Why to-night? Why not at once? 
It is hard for us to cross unknown rivers in the dark." 

"The water is low, Lord, and the ford easy. More- 
over, if you started now you would reach it in the dark ; 
whereas if you start at sundown, you will reach it in 

Jana 195 

the morning. Lastly, we cannot conduct you hence 
until we have buried our dead." 

Then, without giving me time to answer, he turned 
and left the place, followed by the others. Only at the 
gateway the diviner wheeled round on his crutches and 
glared at us both, muttering something with his thick 
lips; probably it was curses. 

"At any rate they are going to set us free," I said 
to Marut, not without exultation, when they had all 

"Yes, Lord," he replied, "but where are they going 
to set us free ? The demon Jana lives in the forests and 
the swamps by the banks of the Tava River, and it is 
said that he ravages at night." 

I did not pursue the subject, but reflected to myself 
cheerfully that this mystic rogue-elephant was a long 
way off and might be circumvented, whereas that altar of 
sacrifice was extremely near and very difficult to avoid. 

Never did a thief with a rich booty in view, or a 
wooer having an assignation with his lady, wait for 
sundown more eagerly than did I that day. Hour after 
hour I sat upon the house-top, watching the Black 
Kendah carrying off the dead killed by the hailstones 
and generally trying to repair the damage done by the 
terrific tempest. Watching the sun also as it climbed 
down the cloudless sky, and literally counting the min- 
utes till it should reach the horizon, although I knew 
well that it would have been wiser after such a night to 
prepare myself for our journey by lying down to sleep. 

At length the great orb began to sink in majesty 
behind the tattered western forest, and, punctual to the 
minute, Simba, with a mounted escort of some twenty 
men and two led horses, appeared at our gate. As our 
preparations, which consisted only of Marut stuffing 
such food as was available into the breast of his robe, 
were already made, we walked out of that accursed 

i 9 6 The Ivory Child 

guest-house and, at a sign from the king, mounted the 
horses. Riding across the empty market-place and 
past the spot where the rough stone altar still stood 
with charred bones protruding from the ashes of its 
extinguished fire were they those of our friends the 
camel drivers ? I wondered we entered the north street 
of the town. 

Here, standing at the doors of their houses, were 
many of the inhabitants who had gathered to watch us 
pass. Never did I see hate more savage than was 
written on those faces as they shook their fists at us and 
muttered curses not loud but deep. 

No wonder ! for they were all ruined, poor folk, with 
nothing to look forward to but starvation until long 
months hence the harvest came again for those who 
would live to gather it. Also they were convinced that 
we, the white magician and the prophet of their enemy 
the Child, had brought this disaster on them. Had it 
not been for the escort I believe they would have fallen 
on us and torn us to pieces. Considering them I under- 
stood for the first time how disagreeable real unpopu- 
larity can be. But when I saw the actual condition of 
the fruitful gardens without in the waning daylight, 
I confess that I was moved to some sympathy with their 
owners. It was appalling. Not a handful of grain 
was there left to gather, for the corn had been not only 
"laid " but literally cut to ribbons by the hail. 

After running for some miles through the cultivated 
land the road entered the forest. Here it was dark as 
pitch, so dark that I wondered how our guides found 
their way. In that blackness dreadful apprehensions 
seized me, for I became convinced that we had been 
brought here to be murdered. Every minute I expected 
to feel a knife-thrust in my back. I thought of digging 
my heels into the horse's sides and trying to gallop 
off anywhere, but abandoned the idea, first because I 

Jana 197 

could not desert Marut, of whom I had lost touch in 
the gloom, and secondly because I was hemmed in by 
the escort. For the same reason I did not try to slip 
from the horse and glide away into the forest. There 
was nothing to be done save to go on and await the end. 

It came at last some hours later. We were out of 
the forest now, and there was the moon rising, past her 
full but still very bright. Her light showed me that we 
were on a wild moorland, swampy, with scattered trees 
growing here and there, across which what seemed to 
be a game track ran down hill. That was all I could 
make out. Here the escort halted, and Simba the king 
said in a sullen voice : 

"Dismount and go your ways, evil spirits, for we 
travel no farther across this place which is haunted. 
Follow the track and it will lead you to a lake. Pass 
the lake and by morning you will come to the river 
beyond which lies the country of your friends. May its 
waters swallow you if you reach them. For learn, there is 
one who watches on this road whom few care to meet." 

As he finished speaking men sprang at us and, pull- 
ing us from the horses, thrust us out of their company. 
Then they turned and in another minute were lost in the 
darkness, leaving us alone. 

"What now, friend Marut?" I asked. 

"Now, Lord, all we can do is to go forward, for if 
we stay here Simba and his people will return and kill 
us at the daylight. One of them said so to me." 

"Then, 'come on, Macduff,' " I exclaimed, stepping 
out briskly, and though he had never read Shakespeare, 
Marut understood and followed. 

"What did Simba mean about 'one on the road 
whom few care to meet ' ? " I asked over my shoulder 
when we had done half a mile or so. 

"I think he meant the elephant Jana," replied Marut 
with a groan. 

198 The Ivory Child 

"Then I hope Jana isn't at home. Cheer up, Marut. 
The chances are that we shall never meet a single 
elephant in this big place." 

"Yet many elephants have been here, Lord," and he 
pointed to the ground. "It is said that they come to 
die by the waters of the lake and this is one of the 
roads they follow on their death journey, a road that no 
other living thing dare travel." 

"Oh I" I exclaimed. "Then after all that was a 
true dream I had in the house in England." 

" Yes, Lord, because my brother Harut once lost his 
way out hunting when he was young and saw what his 
mind showed you in the dream, and what we shall see 
presently, if we live to come so far." 

I made no reply, both because what he said was 
either true or false, which I should ascertain presently, 
and because I was engaged in searching the ground 
with my eyes. He was right; many elephants had 
travelled this path one quite recently. I, a hunter of 
those brutes, could not be deceived on this point. Once 
or twice also I thought that I caught sight of the out- 
line of some tall creature moving silently through the 
scattered thorns a couple of hundred yards or so to our 
right. It might have been an elephant or a giraffe, 
or perhaps nothing but a shadow, so I said nothing. 
As I heard no noise I was inclined to believe the latter 
explanation. In any case, what was the good of speak- 
ing? Unarmed and solitary amidst unknown dangers, 
our position was desperate, and as Marut's nerve was 
already giving out, to emphasise its horrors to him 
would be mere foolishness. 

On we trudged for another two hours, during which 
time the only living thing that I saw was a large owl 
which sailed round our heads as though to look at us, 
and then flew away ahead. 

This owl, Marut informed me, was one of "Jana's 

Jana 199 

spies " that kept him advised of all that was passing 
in his territory. I muttered " Bosh " and tramped on. 
Still I was glad that we saw no more of the owl, for 
in certain circumstances such dark fears are catching. 

We reached the top of a rise, and there beneath us 
lay the most desolate scene that ever I have seen. At 
least it would have been the most desolate if I did not 
chance to have looked on it before, in the drawing-room 
of Ragnall Castle ! There was no doubt about it. 
Below was the black, melancholy lake, a large sheet of 
water surrounded by reeds. Around, but at a consider- 
able distance, appeared the tropical forest. To the east 
of the lake stretched a stony plain. At the time I 
could make out no more because of the uncertain light 
and the distance, for we had still over a mile to go before 
we reached the edge of the lake. 

The aspect of the place filled me with tremblings, 
both because of its utter uncanniness and because of the 
inexplicable truth that I had seen it before. Most 
people will have experienced this kind of moral shock 
when on going to some new land they recognise a 
locality as being quite familiar to them in all its details. 
Or it may be the rooms of a house hitherto unvisited by 
them. Or it may be a conversation of which, when it 
begins, they already foreknow the sequence and the end, 
because in some dim state, when or how who can say, 
they have taken part in that talk with those same 
speakers. If this be so even in cheerful surroundings 
and among our friends or acquaintances, it is easy to 
imagine how much greater was the shock to me, a 
traveller on such a journey and in such a night. 

I shrank from approaching the shores of this lake, 
remembering that as yet all the vision was not unrolled. 
I looked about me. If we went to the left we should 
either strike the water, or if we followed its edge, still 
bearing to the left, must ultimately reach the forest, 

200 The Ivory Child 

where probably we should be lost. I looked to the 
right. The ground was strewn with boulders, among 
which grew thorns and rank grass, impracticable for 
men on foot at night. I looked behind me, meditating 
retreat, and there, some hundreds of yards away behind 
low, scrubby mimosas mixed with aloe-like plants, I 
saw something brown toss up and disappear again that 
might very well have been the trunk of an elephant. 
Then, animated by the courage of despair and a desire 
to know the worst, I began to descend the elephant 
track towards the lake almost at a run. 

Ten minutes or so more brought us to the eastern 
head of the lake, where the reeds whispered in the 
breath of the night wind like things alive. As I ex- 
pected, it proved to be a bare, open space where nothing 
seemed to grow. Yes, and all about me were the decay- 
ing remains of elephants, hundreds of them, some with 
their bones covered in moss, that may have lain here for 
generations, and others more newly dead. They were 
all old beasts as I could tell by the tusks, whether male 
or female. Indeed about me within a radius of a quarter 
of a mile lay enough ivory to make a man very rich 
for life, since although discoloured, much of it seemed 
to have kept quite sound, like human teeth in a mummy 
case. The sight gave me a new zest for life. If only 
I could manage to survive and carry off that ivory ! I 
would. In this way or in that I swore that I would ! 
Who could possibly die with so much ivory to be had 
for the taking ? Not that old hunter, Allan Quatermain. 

Then I forgot about the ivory, for there in front of 
me, just where it should be, just as I had seen it in the 
dream-picture, was the bull elephant dying, a thin and 
ancient brute that had lived its long life to the last hour. 
It searched about as though to find a convenient resting- 
place, and when this was discovered, stood over it, 
swaying to and fro for a full minute. Then it lifted its 

" Outlined clearly against the sky, I perceived the devilish 
elephant of my vision " (see -page 201). 

Jana 201 

trunk and trumpeted shrilly thrice, singing its swan- 
song, after which it sank slowly to its knees, its trunk 
outstretched and the points of its worn tusks resting on 
the ground. Evidently it was dead. 

I let my eyes travel on, and behold ! about fifty yards 
beyond the dead bull was a mound of hard rock. I 
watched it with gasping expectation and yes, on the 
top of the mound something slowly materialised. 
Although I knew what it must be well enough, for a 
while I could not see quite clearly because there were 
certain little clouds about and one of them had floated 
over the face of the moon. It passed, and before me, 
perhaps a hundred and forty paces away, outlined 
clearly against the sky, I perceived the devilish elephant 
of my vision. 

Oh ! what a brute was that ! In bulk and height 
it appeared to be half as big again as any of its tribe 
which I had known in all my life's experience. It was 
enormous, unearthly ; a survivor perhaps of some species 
that lived before the Flood, or at least a very giant of 
its kind. Its grey-black sides were scarred as though 
with fighting. One of its huge tusks, much worn at 
the end, for evidently it was very old, gleamed white 
in the moonlight. The other was broken off about half- 
way down its length. When perfect it had been 
malformed, for it curved downwards and not upwards, 
also rather out to the right. 

There stood this mammoth, this leviathan, this 
monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, as I remember 
my old father used to call a certain gigantic and mis- 
shapen bull that we had on the Station, flapping a pair 
of ears that looked like the sides of a Kafir hut, and 
waving a trunk as big as a weaver's beam whatever a 
weaver's beam may be an appalling and a petrifying 

I squatted behind the skeleton of an elephant which 

202 The Ivory Child 

happened to be handy and well covered with moss and 
ferns and watched the beast, fascinated, wishing that I 
had a large-bore rifle in my hand. What became of 
Marut I do not exactly know, but I think that he lay 
down on the ground. 

During the minute or so that followed I reflected a 
good deal, as we do in times of emergency, often after 
a useless sort of a fashion, For instance, I wondered 
why the brute appeared thus upon yonder mound, and 
the thought suggested itself to me that it was summoned 
thither from some neighbouring lair by the trumpet call 
of the dying elephant. It occurred to me even that it 
was a kind of king of the elephants, to which they felt 
bound to report themselves, as it were, in the hour of 
their decease. Certainly what followed gave some 
credence to my fantastical notion which, if there were 
anything in it, might account for this great graveyard 
at that particular spot. 

After standing for a while in the attitude that I have 
described, testing the air with its trunk, Jana, for I will 
call him so, lumbered down the mound and advanced 
straight to where the elephant that I had thought to be 
dead was kneeling. As a matter of fact it was not 
quite dead, for when Jana arrived it lifted its trunk and 
curled it round that of Jana as though in affectionate 
greeting, then let it fall to the ground again. Thereon 
Jana did what I had seen it do in my dream or vision 
at Ragnall, namely, attacked it, knocking it over on to 
its side, where it lay motionless; quite dead this time. 

Now I remembered that the vision was not accurate 
after all, since in it I had seen Jana destroy a woman 
and a child, who on the present occasion were wanting. 
Since then I have thought that this was because Harut, 
clairvoyantly or telepathically, had conveyed to me, as 
indeed Marut declared, a scene which he had witnessed 
similar to that which I was witnessing, but not identical 

Jana 203 

in its incidents. Thus it happened, perhaps, that while 
the act of the woman and the child was omitted, in our 
case there was another act of the play to follow of which 
I had received no inkling in my Ragnall experience. 
Indeed, if I had received it, I should not have been 
there that night, for no inducement on earth would 
have brought me to Kendahland. 

This was the act. Jana, having prodded his dead 
brother to his satisfaction, whether from viciousness or 
to put it out of pain, I cannot say, stood over the carcass 
in an attitude of grief or pious meditation. At this 
time, I should mention, the wind, which had been 
rustling the hail-stripped reeds at the lake border, had 
died away almost, but not completely; that is to say, 
only a very faint gust blew now and again, which, 
with a hunter's instinct, I observed with satisfaction 
drew from the direction of Jana towards ourselves. 
This I knew, because it struck on my forehead, which 
was wet with perspiration, and cooled the skin. 

Presently, however, by a cursed spite of fate, one of 
these gusts a very little one came from some quarter 
behind us, for I felt it in my back hair, that was as damp 
as the rest of me. Just then I was glancing to my 
right, where it seemed to me that out of the corner of 
my eye I had caught sight of something passing among 
the stones at a distance of a hundred yards or so, pos- 
sibly the shadow of a cloud or another elephant. At 
the time I did not ascertain which it was, since a faint 
rattle from Jana's trunk reconcentrated all my faculties 
on him in a painfully vivid fashion. 

I looked to see that all the contemplation had de- 
parted from his attitude, now as alert as that of a fox- 
terrier which imagines he has seen a rat. His vast 
ears were cocked, his huge bulk trembled, his enormous 
trunk sniffed the air. 

" Great Heavens ! " thought I to myself, " he has 

204 The Ivory Child 

winded us ! " Then I took such consolation as I could 
from the fact that the next faint gust once more struck 
upon my forehead, for I hoped he would conclude that 
he had made a mistake. 

Not a bit of it ! Jana was far too old a bird or 
beast to make any mistake. He grunted, got himself 
going like a luggage train, and with great deliberation 
walked towards us, smelling at the ground, smelling 
at the air, smelling to the right, to the left, and even 
towards heaven above, as though he expected that 
thence might fall upon him vengeance for his many 
sins. A dozen times as he came did I cover him with 
an imaginary rifle, marking the exact spots where I 
might have hoped to send a bullet to his vitals, in a 
kind of automatic fashion, for all my real brain was 
contemplating my own approaching end. 

I wondered how it would happen. Would he drive 
that great tusk through me, would he throw me into 
the air, or would he kneel upon my poor little body, and 
thus avenge the deaths of all his kin that had fallen at 
my hands? Marut was speaking in a rattling whisper : 

"His priests have told Jana to kill us; we are about 
to die," he said. "Before I die I want to say that the 
lady, the wife of the lord " 

"Silence!" I hissed. "He will hear you," for at 
that instant I took not the slightest interest in any lady 
on the earth. Fiercely I glared at Marut and noted 
even then how pitiful was his countenance. There was 
no smile there now. All its jovial roundness had 
vanished. It had sunk in; it was blue and ghastly 
with large, protruding eyes, like to that of a man who 
had been three days dead. 

I was right Jana had heard. Low as the whisper 
was, through that intense silence it had penetrated to 
his almost preternatural senses. Forward he came at 
a run for twenty paces or more with his trunk held 

Jana 205 

straight out in front of him. Then he halted again, 
perhaps the length of a cricket pitch away, and smelt 
as before. 

The sight was too much for Marut. He sprang up 
and ran for his life towards the lake, purposing, I 
suppose, to take refuge in the water. Oh ! how he ran. 
After him went Jana like a railway engine express this 
time trumpeting as he charged. Marut reached the 
lake, which was quite close, about ten yards ahead, and 
plunging into it with a bound, began to swim. 

Now, I thought, he may get away if the crocodiles 
don't have him, for that devil will scarcely take to the 
water. But this was just where I made a mistake, for 
with a mighty splash in went Jana too. Also he was 
the better swimmer. Marut soon saw this and swung 
round to the shore, by which manoeuvre he gained a 
little as he could turn quicker than Jana. 

Back they came, Jana just behind Marut, striking 
at him with his great trunk. They landed, Marut a few 
yards ahead doubling in and out among the rocks like 
a hare and, to my horror, making for where I lay, 
whether by accident or in a mad hope of obtaining 
protection, I do not know. 

It may be asked why I had not taken the opportunity 
to run also in the opposite direction. There are several 
answers. The first was that there seemed to be nowhere 
to run ; the second, that I felt sure, if I did run, I should 
trip up over the skeletons of those elephants or the 
stones ; the third, that I did not think of it at once ; the 
fourth, that Jana had not yet seen me, and I had no 
craving to introduce myself to him personally; and the 
fifth and greatest, that I was so paralysed with fear 
that I did not feel as though I could lift myself from the 
ground. Everything about me seemed to be dead, except 
my powers of observation which were painfully alive. 

Of a sudden Marut gave up. Less than a stone's 

2o6 The Ivory Child 

throw from me he wheeled round and, facing Jana, 
hurled at him some fearful and concentrated curse, of 
which all that I could distinguish were the words : "The 
Child I " 

Oddly enough it seemed to have an effect upon the 
furious rogue, which halted in its rush and, putting its 
four feet together, slid a few paces nearer and stood 
still. It was just as though the beast had understood 
the words and were considering them. If so, their 
effect was to rouse him to perfect madness. He 
screamed terribly; he lashed his sides with his trunk; 
his red and wicked eyes rolled; foam flew from the 
cavern of his opened mouth ; he danced upon his great 
feet, a sort of hideous Scottish reel. Then he charged ! 

I shut my eyes for a moment. When I opened them 
again it was to see poor Marut higher in the air than 
ever he flew before. I thought that he would never 
come down, but he did at last with an awesome thud. 
Jana went to him and very gently, now that he was 
dead, picked him up in his trunk. I prayed that he 
might carry him away to some hiding-place and leave 
me in peace. But not so. With slow and stately 
strides, rocking the deceased Marut up and down in his 
trunk, as a nurse might rock a baby, he marched on 
to the very stone where I lay, behind which I suppose 
he had seen or smelt me all the time. 

For quite a long while, it seemed more than a 
century, he stood over me, studying me as though I 
interested him very much, the water of the lake trickling 
in a refreshing stream from his great ears on to my 
back. Had it not been for that water I think I should 
have fainted, but as it was I did the next best thing 
pretended to be dead. Perhaps this monster would 
scorn to touch a dead man. Watching out of the corner 
of my eye, I saw him lift one vast paw that was of the 
size of the seat of an arm-chair, and hold it over me. 

Jana 207 

Now good-bye to the world, thought I. Then the 
foot descended as a steam-hammer does, but also as a 
steam-hammer sometimes does when used to crack 
nuts, stopped as it touched my back, and presently came 
to earth again alongside of me, perhaps because Jana 
thought the foothold dangerous. At any rate, he took 
another and a better way. Depositing the remains of 
Marut with the most tender care beside me, as though 
the nurse were putting the child to bed, he unwound his 
yards of trunk, and began to feel me all over with its 
tip, commencing at the back of my neck. Oh ! the 
sensation of that clammy, wriggling tip upon my spinal 
column ! 

Down it went till it reached the seat of my trousers. 
There it pinched, presumably to ascertain whether or 
no I were malingering, a most agonising pinch like to 
that of a pair of blacksmith's tongs. So sharp was it 
that, although I did not stir, who was aware that the 
slightest movement meant death, it tore a piece out of 
the stout cloth of my breeches, to say nothing of a 
portion of the skin beneath. This seemed to astonish 
the beast, for it lifted the tip of its trunk and shifted 
its head, as though to examine the fragment by the light 
of the moon. 

Now indeed all was over, for when it saw blood 

upon that cloth ! I put up one short, piteous prayer 

to Heaven to save me from this terrible end, and lo, it 
was answered ! 

For just as Jana, the results of the inspection being 
unsatisfactory, was cocking his ears and making ready 
to slay me, there rang out the short, sharp report of a 
rifle fired within a few yards. Glancing up at the 
instant, I saw blood spurt from the monster's left eye, 
where evidently the bullet had found a home. 

He felt at his eye with his trunk; then, uttering a 
scream of pain, wheeled round and rushed away. 



I SUPPOSE that I swooned for a minute or two. At 
any rate I remember a long and very curious dream, 
such a dream as is evolved by a patient under laughing 
gas, that is very clear and vivid at the time but im- 
mediately afterwards slips from the mind's grasp as 
water does from the clenched hand. It was something 
to the effect that all those hundreds of skeleton elephants 
rose and marshalled themselves before me, making 
obeisance to me by bending their bony knees, because, 
as I quite understood, I was the only human being 
that had ever escaped from Jana. Moreover, on the 
foremost elephant's skull Hans was perched like a 
mahout, giving words of command to their serried 
ranks and explaining to them that it would be very 
convenient if they would carry their tusks, for which 
they had no further use, and pile them in a certain 
place I forget where that must be near a good road 
to facilitate their subsequent transport to a land where 
they would be made into billiard balls and the backs of 
ladies' hairbrushes. Next, through the figments of 
that retreating dream, I heard the undoubted voice of 
Hans himself, which of course I knew to be absurd as 
Hans was lost and doubtless dead, saying : 

"If you are alive, Baas, please wake up soon, as I 
have finished reloading Intombi, and it is time to be 
going. I think I hit Jana in the eye, but so big a 
beast will soon get over so little a thing as that and 
look for us, and the bullet from Intombi is too small 


The Chase 209 

to kill him, Baas, especially as it is not likely that 
either of us could hit him in the other eye." 

Now I sat up and stared. Yes, there was Hans 
himself looking just the same as usual, only perhaps 
rather dirtier, engaged in setting a cap on to the nipple 
of the little rifle Intombi. 

"Hans," I said in a hollow voice, "why the devil are 
you here ? " 

"To save you from the devil, of course, Baas," he 
replied aptly. Then, resting the gun against the stone, 
the old fellow knelt down by my side and, throwing his 
arms round me, began to blubber over me, exclaiming : 

"Just in time, Baas ! Only just in time, for as usual 
Hans made a mess of things and judged badly I'll tell 
you how afterwards. Still, just in time, thanks be to 
your reverend father, the Predikant. Oh ! if he had 
delayed me for one more minute you would have been 
as flat as my nose, Baas. Now come quickly. I've 
got the camel tied up there, and he can carry two, being 
fat and strong after four days' rest with plenty to eat. 
This place is haunted, Baas, and that king of the devils, 
Jana, will be back after us presently, as soon as he has 
wiped the blood out of his eye." 

I didn't make any remark, having no taste for con- 
versation just then, but only looked at poor Marut, who 
lay by me as though he were sleeping. 

"Oh, Baas," said Hans, "there is no need to trouble 
about him, for his neck is broken and he's quite dead. 
Also it is as well," he added cheerfully. "For, as your 
reverend father doubtless remembered, the camel could 
never carry three. Moreover, if he stops here, perhaps 
Jana will come back to play with him instead of follow- 
ing us." 

Poor Marut ! This was his requiem as sung by 

With a last glance at the unhappy man to whom I 


2io The Ivory Child 

had grown attached in a way during our time of joint 
captivity and trial, I took the arm of the old Hottentot, 
or rather leant upon his shoulder, for at first I felt too 
weak to walk by myself, and picked my path with him 
through the stones and skeletons of elephants across the 
plateau eastwards, that is, away from the lake. About 
two hundred yards from the scene of our tragedy was a 
mound of rock similar to that on which Jana had 
appeared, but much smaller, behind which we found 
the camel, kneeling as a well-trained beast of the sort 
should do and tethered to a stone. 

As we went, in brief but sufficient language Hans 
told me his story. It seemed that after he had shot 
the Kendah general it came into his cunning, fore- 
seeing mind that he might be of more use to me free 
than as a companion in captivity, or that if I were 
killed he might in that case live to bring vengeance on 
my slayers. So he broke away, as has been described, 
and hid till nightfall on the hillside. Then by the light 
of the moon he tracked us, avoiding the villages, and 
ultimately found a place of shelter in a kind of cave in 
the forest near to Simba Town, where no people lived. 
Here he fed the camel at night, concealing it at dawn 
in the cave. The days he spent up a tall tree, whence 
he could watch all that went on in the town beneath, 
living meanwhile on some food which he carried in a 
bag tied to the saddle, helped out by green mealies 
which he stole from a neighbouring field. 

Thus he saw most of what passed in the town, in- 
cluding the desolation wrought by the fearful tempest 
of hail, which, being in their cave, both he and the 
camel escaped without harm. On the next evening 
from his post of outlook up the tree, where he had now 
some difficulty in hiding himself because the hail had 
stripped off all its leaves, he saw Marut and myself 
brought from the guest-house and taken away by the 

The Chase 211 

escort. Descending and running to the cave, he saddled 
the camel and started in pursuit, plunging into the 
forest and hiding there when he perceived that the escort 
were leaving us. 

Here he waited until they had gone by on their 
return journey. So close did they pass to him that he 
could overhear their talk, which told him they expected, 
or rather were sure, that we should both be destroyed 
by the elephant Jana, their devil god, to whom the 
camelmen had been already sacrificed. After they had 
departed he remounted and followed us. Here I asked 
him why he had not overtaken us before we came to 
the cemetery of elephants, as I presumed he might have 
done, since he stated that he was close in our rear. 
This indeed was the case, for it was the head of the 
camel I saw behind the thorn trees when I looked back, 
and not the trunk of an elephant as I had supposed. 

At the time he would give me no direct answer, 
except that he grew muddled as he had already sug- 
gested, and thought it best to keep in the background 
and see what happened. Long afterwards, however, he 
admitted to me that he acted on a presentiment. 

"It seemed to me, Baas," he said, "that your 
reverend father was telling me that I should do best to 
let you two go on and not show myself, since if I did 
so we should all three be killed, as one of us must walk 
whom the other two could not desert. Whereas if I 
left you as you were, one of you would be killed and 
the other escape, and that the one to be killed would 
not be you, Baas. All of which came about as the 
Spirit spoke in my head, for Marut was killed, who did 
not matter, and you know the rest, Baas." 

To return to Hans's story. He saw us march down 
to the borders of the lake, and, keeping to our right, 
took cover behind the knoll of rock, whence he watched 
also all that followed. When Jana advanced to attack 

212 The Ivory Child 

us Hans crept forward in the hope, a very wild one, 
of crippling him with the little Purdey rifle. Indeed, 
he was about to fire at the hind leg when Marut made 
his run for life and plunged into the lake. Then he 
crawled on to lead me away to the camel, but when he 
was within a few yards the chase returned our way and 
Marut was killed. 

From that moment he waited for an opportunity to 
shoot Jana in the only spot where so soft a bullet 
would, as he knew, have the faintest chance of injuring 
him vitally namely, in the eye for he was sure that 
its penetration would not be sufficient to reach the vitals 
through that thick hide and the mass of flesh behind. 
With an infinite and wonderful patience he waited, 
knowing that my life or death hung in the balance. 
While Jana held his foot over me, while he felt me with 
his trunk, still Hans waited, balancing the arguments 
for and against firing upon the scales of experience in 
his clever old mind, and in the end coming to a right 
and wise conclusion. 

At length his chance came, the brute exposed its eye, 
and by the light of the clear moon Hans, always a 
very good shot at a short distance when it was not 
necessary to allow for trajectory and wind, let drive and 
hit. The bullet did not get to the brain as he had 
hoped ; it had not strength for that, but it destroyed this 
left eye and gave Jana such pain that for a while he 
forgot all about me and everything else except escape. 

Such was the Hottentot's tale as I picked it up from 
his laconic, colourless, Dutch patois sentences, then 
and afterwards; a very wonderful tale I thought. But 
for him, his fidelity and his bushman's cunning, where 
should I have found myself before that moon set? 

We mounted the camel after I had paused a minute 
to take a pull from a flask of brandy which remained 

The Chase 213 

in the saddle-bags. Although he loved strong 'drink 
so well Hans had saved it untouched on the mere chance 
that it might some time be of service to me, his master. 
The monkey-like Hottentot sat in front and directed 
the camel, while I accommodated myself as best I could 
on the sheepskins behind. Luckily they were thick and 
soft, for Jana's pinch was not exactly that of a lover. 

Off we went, picking our way carefully till we 
reached the elephant track beyond the mound where 
Jana had appeared, which, in the light of faith, we 
hoped would lead us to the River Tava. Here we made 
better progress, but still could not go very fast because 
of the holes made by the feet of Jana and his company. 
Soon we had left the cemetery behind us, and lost 
sight of the lake which I devoutly trusted I might 
never see again. 

Now the track ran upwards from the hollow to a 
ridge two or three miles away. We reached the crest 
of this ridge without accident, except that on our road 
we met another aged elephant, a cow with very poor 
tusks, travelling to its last resting-place, or so I suppose. 
I don't know which was the more frightened, the sick 
cow or the camel, for camels hate elephants as horses 
hate camels until they get used to them. The cow 
bolted to the right as quickly as it could, which was 
not very fast, and the camel bolted to the left with 
such convulsive bounds that we were nearly thrown off 
its back. However, being an equable brute, it soon 
recovered its balance, and we got back to the track 
beyond the cow. 

From the top of the rise we saw that before us lay 
a sandy plain lightly clothed with grass, and, to our 
joy, about ten miles away at the foot of a very gentle 
slope, the moonlight gleamed upon the waters of a 
broad river. It was not easy to make out, but it was 
there; we were both sure it was there; we could not 

The Ivory Child 

mistake that wavering, silver flash. On we went for 
another quarter of a mile, when something caused me 
to turn round on the sheepskin and look back. 

Oh Heavens ! At the very top of the rise, clearly 
outlined against the sky, stood Jana himself with his 
trunk lifted. Next instant he trumpeted, a furious, 
rattling challenge of rage and defiance. 

"Allemagte! Baas," said Hans, "the old devil is com- 
ing to look for his lost eye, and has seen us with that 
which remains. He has been travelling on our spoor." 

" Forward ! " I answered, banging my heels into the 
camel's ribs. 

Then the race began. That camel was a very good 
camel, one of the real running breed; also, as Hans 
said, it was comparatively fresh, and may, moreover, 
have been aware that it was near to the plains where it 
had been bred. Lastly, the going was now excellent, 
soft to its spongy feet but not too deep in sand, nor 
were there any rocks over which it could fall. It went 
off like the wind, making nothing of our united weights 
which did not come to more than two hundred pounds, 
or a half of what it could carry with ease, being per- 
haps urged to its top speed by the knowledge that the 
elephant was behind. 

For mile after mile we rushed down that plain. But 
we did not go alone, for Jana came after us like a cruiser 
after a gunboat. Moreover, swiftly as we travelled, he 
travelled just a little swifter, gaining say a few yards 
in every hundred. For the last mile before we came to 
the river bank, half an hour later perhaps, though it 
seemed to be a week, he was not more than fifty paces 
to our rear. I glanced back at him, and in the light of 
the moon, which was growing low, he bore a strange 
resemblance to a mud cottage with broken chimneys 
(which were his ears flapping on each side of him), and 
the yard pump projecting from the upper window. 

The Chase 215 

"We shall beat him, Hans," I said, looking at the 
broad river which was now close at hand. 

"Yes, Baas," answered Hans doubtfully and in 
jerks. "This is very good camel, Baas. He runs so 
fast that I have no inside left, I suppose because he 
smells his wife over that river, to say nothing of death 
behind him. But, Baas, I am not sure; that devil 
Jana is still faster than the camel, and he wants to settle 
for his lost eye, which makes him lively. Also I see 
stones ahead, which are bad for camels. Then there is 
the river, and I don't know if camels can swim, but 
Jana can as Marut learned. Do you think, Baas, that 
you could manage to sting him up with a bullet in his 
knee or that great trunk of his, just to give him some- 
thing to think about besides ourselves." 

Thus he prattled on, I believe to occupy my mind 
and his own, till at length, growing impatient, I replied : 

" Be silent, donkey. Can I shoot an elephant back- 
wards over my shoulder with a rifle meant for spring- 
buck? Hit the camel. Hit it hard." 

Alas I Hans was right I There were stones at the 
verge of the river, which doubtless it had washed out 
in periods of past flood, and presently we were among 
them. Now a camel, so good on sand that is its native 
heath, is a worthless brute among stones, over which it 
slips and flounders. But to Jana these appeared to 
offer little or no obstacle. At any rate he came over 
them almost if not quite as fast as before. By the 
time that we reached the brink of the water he was not 
more than ten yards behind. I could even see the 
blood running down from the socket of his ruined eye. 

Moreover, at the sight of the foaming but shallow 
torrent, the camel, a creature unaccustomed to water, 
pulled up in a mulish kind of way and for a moment 
refused to stir. Luckily at that instant Jana let off one 
of his archangel kind of trumpetings which started our 

216 The Ivory Child 

beast again, since it was more afraid of elephants than 
it was of water. 

In we went and were presently floundering among 
the loose stones at the bottom of the river, which was 
nowhere over four feet deep, with Jana splashing after 
us not more than five yards behind. I twisted myself 
round and fired at him with the little rifle. Whether I 
hit him or no I could not say, but he stopped for a few 
seconds, perhaps because he remembered the effect of a 
similar explosion upon his eye, which gave us a trifling 
start. Then he came on again in his steam-engine 

When we were about in the middle of the river the 
inevitable happened. The camel fell, pitching us over 
its head into the stream. Still clinging to the rifle I 
picked myself up and began half to swim half to wade 
towards the farther shore, catching hold of Hans with 
my free hand. In a moment Jana was on to that camel. 
He gored it with his tusk, he trampled it with his feet, 
he got it round the neck with his trunk, dragging nearly 
the whole bulk of it out of the water. Then he set to 
work to pound it down into the mud and stones at the 
bottom of the river with such a persistent thoroughness, 
that he gave us time to reach the other bank and climb 
up a stout tree which grew there, a sloping, flat-topped 
kind of tree that was fortunately easy to ascend, at least 
for a man. Here we sat gasping, perhaps about thirty 
feet above the ground level, and waited. 

Presently Jana, having finished with the camel, fol- 
lowed us, and without any difficulty located us in that 
tree. He walked all round it considering the situation. 
Then he wound his huge trunk about the bole of the 
tree and, putting out his gigantic strength, tried to pull 
it over. It was an anxious moment, but this particular 
child of the forest had not grown there for some hun- 
dreds of years, withstanding all the shocks of wind, 

The Chase 217 

weather and water, in order to be laid low by an 
elephant, however enormous. It shook a little no more. 
Abandoning this attempt as futile, Jana next began to 
try to dig it up by driving his tusk under its roots. 
Here, too, he failed because they grew among stones 
which evidently jarred him. 

Ceasing from these agricultural efforts with a deep 
rumble of rage, he adopted yet a third expedient. Rear- 
ing his huge bulk into the air he brought down his 
forefeet with all the tremendous weight of his great 
body behind them on to the sloping trunk of the tree 
just below where the branches sprang, perhaps twelve 
or thirteen feet above the ground. The shock was so 
heavy that for a moment I thought the tree would be 
uprooted or snapped in two. Thank Heaven ! it held, 
but the vibration was such that Hans and I were nearly 
shaken out of the upper branches, like autumn apples 
from a bough. Indeed, I think I should have gone had 
not the monkey-like Hans, who had toes to cling with 
as well as fingers, gripped me by the collar. 

Thrice did Jana repeat this manoeuvre, and at the 
third onslaught I saw to my horror that the roots were 
loosening. I heard some of them snap, and a crack 
appeared in the ground not far from the bole. For- 
tunately Jana never noted these symptoms, for abandon- 
ing a plan which he considered unavailing he stood 
for a while swaying his trunk and lost in gentle thought. 
"Hans," I whispered, "load the rifle quick! I can 
get him in the spine or the other eye." 

"Wet powder won't go off, Baas," groaned Hans. 
"The water got to it in the river." 

"No," I answered, "and it is all your fault for 
making me shoot at him when I could take no aim." 

"It would have been just the same, Baas, for the 
rifle went under water also when we fell from the camel, 
and the cap would have been damp, and perhaps the 

2i8 The Ivory Child 

powder too. Also the shot made Jana stop for a 

This was true, but it was maddening to be obliged 
to sit there with an empty gun, when if I had but one 
charge, or even my pistol, I was sure that I could have 
blinded or crippled this satanic pachyderm. 

A few minutes later Jana played his last card. 
Coming quite close to the trunk of the tree he reared 
himself up as before, but this time stretched out his fore- 
legs so that these and his body were supported on 
the broad bole. Then he elongated his trunk and with 
it began to break off boughs which grew between us 
and him. 

"I don't think he can reach us," I said doubtfully to 
Hans, "that is, unless he brings a stone to stand on." 

"Oh! Baas, pray be silent," answered Hans, "or 
he will understand and fetch one." 

Although the idea seemed absurd, on the whole I 
thought it well to take the hint, for who knew how much 
this experienced beast did or did not understand ? Then, 
as we could go no higher, we wriggled as far as we 
dared along our boughs and waited. 

Presently Jana, having finished his clearing opera- 
tions, began to lengthen his trunk to its full measure. 
Literally, it seemed to expand like a telescope or an 
indiarubber ring. Out it came, foot after foot, till 
its snapping tip was waving within a few inches of us, 
just short of my foot and Hans's head, or rather felt 
hat. One final stretch and he reached the hat, which 
he removed with a flourish and thrust into the red 
cavern of his mouth. As it appeared no more I suppose 
he ate it. This loss of his hat moved Hans to fury. 
Hurling horrible curses at Jana he drew his butcher's 
knife and made ready. 

Once more the sinuous brown trunk elongated itself. 
Evidently Jana had got a better hold with his hind legs 

The Chase 219 

this time, or perhaps had actually wriggled himself a 
few inches up the tree. At any rate I saw to my dis- 
may that there was every prospect of my making a 
second acquaintance with that snapping tip. The end 
of the trunk was lying along my bough like a huge 
brown snake and creeping up, up, up. 

"He'll get us," I muttered. 

Hans said nothing but leant forward a little, holding 
on with his left hand. Next instant in the light of the 
rising sun I saw a knife flash, saw also that the point 
of it had been driven through the lower lip of Jana's 
trunk, pinning it to the bough like a butterfly to a board. 

My word ! what a commotion ensued ! Up the trunk 
came a scream which nearly blew me away. Then 
Jana, with a wriggling motion, tried to unnail himself 
as softly as possible, for it was clear that the knife point 
hurt him, but could not do so because Hans still held 
the handle and had driven the blade deep into the 
wood. Lastly he dragged himself downwards with 
such energy that something had to go, that something 
being the skin and muscle of the lower lip, which was 
cut clean through, leaving the knife erect in the bough. 

Over he went backwards, a most imperial cropper. 
Then he picked himself up, thrust the tip of his trunk 
into his mouth, sucked it as one does a cut finger, and 
finally, roaring in defeated rage, fled into the river, 
which he waded, and back upon his tracks towards his 
own home. Yes, off he went, Hans screaming curses 
and demands that he should restore his hat after him, 
and very seldom in all my life have I seen a sight that 
I thought more beautiful than that of his whisking tail. 

"Now, Baas," chuckled Hans, "the old devil has 
got a sore nose as well as a sore eye by which to re- 
member us. And, Baas, I think we had better be 
going before he has time to think and comes back with 
a long stick to knock us out of this tree." 

220 The Ivory Child 

So we went, in double-quick time I can assure you, 
or at any rate as fast as my stiff limbs and general 
condition would allow. Fortunately we had now no 
doubt as to our direction, since standing up through 
the mists of dawn with the sunbeams resting on its 
forest-clad crest, we could clearly see the strange, 
tumulus-shaped hill which the White Kendah called the 
Holy Mount, the Home of the Child. It appeared to 
be about twenty miles away, but in reality was a good 
deal farther, for when we had walked for several hours 
it seemed almost as distant as ever. 

In truth that was a dreadful trudge. Not only was 
I exhausted with all the terrors I had passed and our 
long midnight flight, but the wound where Jana had 
pinched out a portion of my frame, inflamed by the 
riding, had now grown stiff and intolerably sore, so 
that every step gave me pain which sometimes 
culminated in agony. However, it was no use giving 
in, foodless as we were, for Marut had carried the pro- 
visions, and with the chance of Jana returning to look 
us up. So I stuck to it and said nothing. 

For the first ten miles the country seemed unin- 
habited; doubtless it was too near the borders of the 
Black Kendah to be popular as a place of residence. 
After this we saw herds of cattle and a few camels, 
apparently untended ; perhaps their guards were hidden 
away in the long grass. Then we came to some fields 
of mealies that were, I noticed, quite untouched by the 
hailstorm, which, it would seem, had confined its atten- 
tions to the land of the Black Kendah. Of these we 
ate thankfully enough. A little farther on we perceived 
huts perched on an inaccessible place in a kloof. Also 
their inhabitants perceived us, for they ran away as 
though in a great fright. 

Still we did not try to approach the huts, not know- 
ing how we should be received. After my sojourn in 

The Chase 221 

Simba Town I had become possessed of a love of life 
in the open. 

For another two hours I limped forward with pain 
and grief by now I was leaning on Hans's shoulder 
up an endless, uncultivated rise clothed with euphorbias 
and fern-like cycads. At length we reached its top 
and found ourselves within a rifle shot of a fenced 
native village. I suppose that its inhabitants had been 
warned of our coming by runners from the huts I have 
mentioned. At any rate the moment we appeared the 
men, to the number of thirty or more, poured out of the 
south gate armed with spears and other weapons and 
proceeded to ring us round and behave in a very 
threatening manner. I noticed at once that, although 
most of them were comparatively light in colour, some 
of these men partook of the negro characteristics of the 
Black Kendah from whom we had escaped, to such 
an extent indeed that this blood was clearly predominant 
in them. Still, it was also clear that they were all 
deadly foes of this people, for when I shouted out to 
them that we were the friends of Harut and those who 
worshipped the Child, they yelled back that we were 
liars. No friends of the Child, they said, came from 
the country of the Black Kendah, who worshipped the 
devil Jana. I tried to explain that least of all men in 
the world did we worship Jana, who had been hunting 
us for hours, but they would not listen. 

" You are spies of Simba's, the smell of Jana is upon 
you " (this may have been true enough), they yelled, 
adding: "We will kill you, white-faced goat. We 
will kill you, little yellow monkey, for none who are not 
enemies come here from the land of the Black Kendah." 

"Kill us then," I answered, "and bring the curse 
of the Child upon you. Bring famine, bring hail, 
bring war ! " 

These words were, I think, well chosen ; at any rate 

222 The Ivory Child 

they induced a pause in their murderous intentions. 
For a while they hesitated, all talking together at once. 
At last the advocates of violence appeared to get the 
upper hand, and once more a number of the men began 
to dance about us, waving their spears and crying out 
that we must die who came from the Black Kendah. 

I sat down upon the ground, for I was so exhausted 
that at the time I did not greatly care whether I died or 
lived, while Hans drew his knife and stood over me, 
cursing them as he had cursed at Jana. By 
slow degrees they drew nearer and nearer. I watched 
them with a kind of idle curiosity, believing that 
the moment when they came within actual spear- 
thrust would be our last, but, as I have said, not greatly 
caring because of my mental and physical exhaustion. 

I had already closed my eyes that I might not see 
the flash of the falling steel, when an exclamation from 
Hans caused me to open them again. Following the 
line of the knife with which he pointed, I perceived a 
troop of men on camels emerging from the gates of the 
village at full speed. In front of these, his white gar- 
ments fluttering on the wind, rode a bearded and 
dignified person in whom I recognised Harut, Harut 
himself, waving a spear and shouting as he came. Our 
assailants heard and saw him also, then flung down their 
weapons as though in dismay either at his appearance 
or his words, which I could not catch. Harut guided 
his rushing camel straight at the man who I presume 
was their leader, and struck at him with his spear, as 
though in fury, wounding him in the shoulder and 
causing him to fall to the ground. As he struck he 
called out : 

" Dog ! Would you harm the guests of the Child ? " 

Then I heard no more because I fainted away. 



AFTER this it seemed to me that I dreamed a long and 
very troubled dream concerning all sorts of curious 
things which I cannot remember. At last I opened 
my eyes and observed that I lay on a low bed raised 
about three inches above the floor, in an Eastern-look- 
ing room, large and cool. It had window-places in it 
but no windows, only grass mats hung upon a rod 
which, I noted inconsequently, worked on a rough, 
wooden hinge, or rather pin, that enabled the curtain 
to be turned back against the wall. 

Through one of these window-places I saw at a little 
distance the slope of the forest-covered hill, which re- 
minded me of something to do with a child for the life 
of me I could not remember what. As I lay wondering 
over the matter I heard a shuffling step which I recog- 
nised, and, turning, saw Hans twiddling a new hat 
made of straw in his fingers. 

"Hans," I said, "where did you get that new hat?" 

"They gave it me here, Baas," he answered. "The 
Baas will remember that the devil Jana ate the other." 

Then I did remember more or less, while Hans 
continued to twiddle the hat. I begged him to put it 
on his head because it fidgeted me, and then inquired 
where we were. 

" In the Town of the Child, Baas, where they carried 
you after you had seemed to die down yonder. A very 
nice town, where there is plenty to eat, though, having 
been asleep for three days, you have had nothing except 


224 The Ivory Child 

a little milk and soup, which was poured down your 
throat with a spoon whenever you seemed to half wake 
up for a while." 

"I was tired and wanted a long rest, Hans, and 
now I feel hungry. Tell me, are the lord and Bena 
here also, or were they killed after all ? " 

"Yes, Baas, they are here safe enough, and so are 
all our goods. They were both with Harut when 
he saved us down by the village yonder, but you went 
to sleep and did not see them. They have been nursing 
you ever since, Baas." 

Just then Savage himself entered, carrying some 
soup upon a wooden tray and looking almost as smart 
as he used to do at Ragnall Castle. 

"Good day, sir," he said in his best professional 
manner. "Very glad to see you back with us, sir, and 
getting well, I trust, especially after we had given you 
and Mr. Hans up as dead." 

I thanked him and drank the soup, asking him to 
cook me something more substantial as I was starving, 
which he departed to do. Then I sent Hans to find 
Lord Ragnall, who it appeared was out walking in the 
town. No sooner had they gone than Harut entered 
looking more dignified than ever and, bowing gravely, 
seated himself upon the mat in the Eastern fashion. 

"Some strong spirit must go with you, Lord Macu- 
mazana," he said, "that you should live to-day, after 
we were sure that you had been slain." 

"That's where you made a mistake. Your magic 
was not of much service to you there, friend Harut." 

"Yet my magic, as you call it, though I have none, 
was of some service after all, Macumazana. As it 
chanced I had no opportunity of breathing in the 
wisdom of the Child for two days from the hour of our 
arrival here, because 1 was hurt on the knee in the 
fight and so weary that I could not travel up the moun- 

The Dweller in the Cave 225 

tain and seek light from the eyes of the Child. On the 
third day, however, I went and the Oracle told me all. 
Then I descended swiftly, gathered men and reached 
those fools in time to keep you from harm. They have 
paid for what they did, Lord." 

"I am sorry, Harut, for they knew no better; and, 
Harut, although I saved myself, or rather Hans saved 
me, we have left your brother behind, and with him 
the others." 

"I know. Jana was too strong for them; you and 
your servant alone could prevail against him." 

"Not so, Harut. He prevailed against us; all we 
could do was to injure his eye and the tip of his trunk 
and escape from him." 

" Which is more than any others have done for many 
generations, Lord. But doubtless as the beginning was, 
so shall the end be. Jana, I think, is near his death and 
through you." 

"I don't know," I repeated. "Who and what is 

"Have I not told you that he is an evil spirit who 
inhabits the body of a huge elephant ? " 

"Yes, and so did Marut; but I think that he is just 
a huge elephant with a very bad temper of his own. 
Still, whatever he is, he will take some killing, and I 
don't want to meet him any more by that horrible lake." 

"Then you will meet him elsewhere, Lord. For if 
you do not go to look for Jana, Jana will come to look 
for you who have hurt him so sorely. Remember that 
henceforth, wherever you go in all this land, it may 
happen that you will meet Jana." 

"Do you mean to say that the brute comes into the 
territory of the White Kendah ? " 

"Yes, Macumazana, at times he comes, or a spirit 
wearing his shape comes; I know not which. What I 
do know is that twice in my life I myself have seen 

226 The Ivory Child 

him upon the Holy Mount, though how he came or 
how he went none can tell." 

"Why was he wandering there, Harut?" 

"Who can say, Lord? Tell me why evil wanders 
through the world and I will answer your question. 
Only I repeat let those who have harmed Jana beware 
of Jana." 

"And let Jana beware of me if I can meet him with 
a decent gun in my hand, for I have a score to settle 
with the beast. Now, Harut, there is another matter. 
Just before he was killed Marut, your brother, began to 
tell me something about the wife of the Lord Ragnall. 
I had no time to listen to the end of his words, though 
I thought he said that she was upon yonder Holy 
Mount. Did I hear aright? " 

Instantly Harut's face became like that of a stone 
idol, impenetrable, impassive. 

"Either you misunderstood, Lord," he answered, 
"or my brother raved in his fear. Wherever she may 
be, that beautiful lady is not upon the Holy Mount, 
unless there is another Holy Mount in the Land of 
Death. Moreover, Lord, as we are speaking of this 
matter, let me tell you the forest upon that Mount must 
be trodden by none save the priests of the Child. If 
others set foot there they die, for it is watched by a 
guardian more terrible even than Jana, nor is he the 
only one. Ask me nothing of that guardian, for I will 
not answer, and, above all, if you or your comrades 
value life, let them not seek to look upon him." 

Understanding that it was quite useless to pursue 
this subject further at the moment, I turned to another, 
remarking that the hailstorm which had smitten the 
country of the Black Kendah was the worst that I had 
ever experienced. 

"Yes," answered Harut, "so I have learned. That 
was the first of the curses which the Child, through my 

The Dweller in the Cave 227 

mouth, promised to Simba and his people if they 
molested us upon our road. The second, you will, re- 
member, was famine, which for them is near at hand, 
seeing that they have little corn in store and none left 
to gather, and that most of their cattle are dead of the 

"If they have no corn while, as I noted, you have 
plenty which the storm spared, will not they, who are 
so many in number but near to starving, attack you and 
take your corn, Harut ? " 

"Certainly they will do so, Lord, and then will fall 
the third curse, the curse of war. All this was fore- 
seen long ago, Macumazana, and you are here to help 
us in that war. Among your goods you have many 
guns and much powder and lead. You shall teach our 
people how to use those guns, that with them we may 
destroy the Black Kendah." 

"I think not," I replied quietly. "I came here to 
kill a certain elephant and to receive payment for my 
service in ivory, not to fight the Black Kendah, of 
whom I have already seen enough. Moreover, the 
guns are not my property but that of the Lord Ragnall, 
who perhaps will ask his own price for the use of them." 

" And the Lord Ragnall, who came here against our 
will, is, as it chances, our property and we may ask 
our own price for his life. Now, farewell for a while, 
since you, who are still sick and weak, have talked 
enough. Only before I go, as your friend and that of 
those with you, I will add one word. If you would 
continue to look upon the sun, let none of you try to 
set foot in the forest upon the Holy Mount. Wander 
where you will upon its southern slopes, but strive not 
to pass the wall of rock which rings the forest round." 

Then he rose, bowed gravely and departed, leaving 
me full of reflections. 

Shortly afterwards Savage and Hans returned, 

228 The Ivory Child 

bringing me some meat which the former had cooked 
in an admirable fashion. I ate of it heartily, and just 
as they were carrying off the remains of the meal Rag- 
nail himself arrived. Our greeting was very warm, 
as might be expected in the case of two comrades who 
never thought to speak to each other again on this side 
of the grave. As I had supposed, he was certain that 
Hans and I had been cut off and killed by the Black 
Kendah, as, after we were missed, some of the camel- 
men asserted that they had actually seen us fall. So 
he went on, or rather was carried on by the rush of the 
camels, grieving, since, it being impossible to attempt 
to recover our bodies or even to return, that was the 
only thing to do, and in due course reached the Town 
of the Child without further accident. Here they rested 
and mourned for us, till some days later Harut sud- 
denly announced that we still lived, though how he 
knew this they could not ascertain. Then they sallied 
out and found us, as has been told, in great danger 
from the ignorant villagers who, until we appeared, had 
not even heard of our existence. 

I asked what they had done and what information 
they had obtained since their arrival at this place. His 
answer was : Nothing and none worth mentioning. The 
town appeared to be a small one of not much over two 
thousand inhabitants, all of whom were engaged in 
agricultural pursuits and in camel-breeding. The 
herds of camels, however, they gathered, for the most 
part were kept at outlying settlements on the farther 
side of the cone-shaped mountain. As they were 
unable to talk the language the only person from 
whom they could gain knowledge was Harut, who spoke 
to them in his broken English and told them much 
what he had told me, namely that the upper mountain 
was a sacred place that might only be visited by the 
priests, since any uninitiated person who set foot there 

The Dweller in the Cave 229 

came to a bad end. They had not seen any of these 
priests in the town, where no form of worship appeared 
to be practised, but they had observed men driving 
small numbers of sheep or goats up the flanks of the 
mountain towards the forest. 

Of what went on upon this mountain and who lived 
there they remained in complete ignorance. It was a 
case of stalemate. Harut would not tell them any- 
thing nor could they learn anything for themselves. 
He added in a depressed way that the whole business 
seemed very hopeless, and that he had begun to doubt 
whether there was any tidings of his lost wife to be 
gained among the Kendah, White or Black. 

Now I repeated to him Marut's dying words, of 
which most unhappily I had never heard the end. These 
seemed to give him new life since they showed that 
tidings there was of some sort, if only it could be 
extracted. But how might this be done ? How ? How ? 

For a whole week things went on thus. During 
this time I recovered my strength completely, except 
in one particular which reduced me to helplessness. 
The place on my thigh where Jana had pinched out a 
bit of the skin healed up well enough, but the inflam- 
mation struck inwards to the nerve of my left leg, where 
once I had been injured by a lion, with the result that 
whenever I tried to move I was tortured by pains of a 
sciatic nature. So I was obliged to lie still and to 
content myself with being carried on the bed into a 
little garden which surrounded the mud-built and white- 
washed house that had been allotted to us as a 

There I lay hour after hour, staring at the Holy 
Mount which began to spring from the plain within a 
few hundred yards of the scattered township. For a 
mile or so its slopes were bare except for grass on 

230 The Ivory Child 

which sheep and goats were grazed, and a few scattered 
trees. Studying the place through glasses I observed 
that these slopes were crowned by a vertical precipice 
of what looked like lava rock, which seemed to surround 
the whole mountain and must have been quite a 
hundred feet high. Beyond this precipice, which to 
all appearance was of an unclimbable nature, began a 
dense forest of large trees, cedars I thought, clothing 
it to the very top, that is so far as I could see. 

One day when I was considering the place, Harut 
entered the garden suddenly and caught me in the act. 

"The House of the god is beautiful," he said, "is it 

"Very," I answered, "and of a strange formation. 
But how do those who dwell on it climb that precipice ? " 

"It cannot be climbed," he answered, "but there is 
a road which I am about to travel who go to worship 
the Child. Yet I have told you, Macumazana, that 
any strangers who seek to walk that road find death. 
If they do not believe me, let them try," he added 

Then after many inquiries about my health, he in- 
formed me that news had reached him to the effect that 
the Black Kendah were mad at the loss of their crops 
which the hail had destroyed and because of the near 
prospect of starvation. 

"Then soon they will be wishing to reap yours with 
spears," I said. 

"That is so. Therefore, my Lord Macumazana, get 
well quickly that you may be able to scare away these 
crows with guns, for in fourteen days the harvest should 
begin upon our uplands. Farewell and have no fears, 
for during my absence my people will feed and watch 
you and on the third night I shall return again." 

After HarOt's departure a deep depression fell upon 
all of us. Even Hans was depressed, while Savage 
became like a man under sentence of execution at a near 

The Dweller in the Cave 231 

but uncertain date. I tried to cheer him up and asked 
him what was the matter. 

"I don't know, Mr. Quatermain," he answered, "but 
the fact is this is a 'ateful and un'oly 'ole " (in his 
agitation he quite lost grip of his h's, which was always 
weak), " and I am sure that it is the last I shall ever see, 
except one." 

"Well, Savage," I said jokingly, "at any rate there 
don't seem to be any snakes here." 

"No, Mr. Quatermain. That is, I haven't met any, 
but they crawl about me all night, and whenever I see 
that prophet man he talks of them to me. Yes, he 
talks of them and nothing else with a sort of cold look 
in his eyes that makes my back creep. I wish it was 
over, I do, who shall never see old England again," 
and he went away, I think to hide his very painful and 
evident emotion. 

That evening Hans returned from an expedition on 
which I had sent him with instructions to try to get 
round the mountain and report what was on its other 
side. It had been a complete failure, as after he had 
gone a few miles men appeared who ordered him back. 
They were so threatening in their demeanour that had 
it not been for the little rifle, Intombi, which he carried 
under pretence of shooting buck, a weapon that they 
regarded with great awe, they would, he thought, have 
killed him. He added that he had been quite unsuc- 
cessful in his efforts to collect any news of value from 
man, woman or child, all of whom, although very 
polite, appeared to have orders to tell him nothing, con- 
cluding with the remark that he considered the White 
Kendah bigger devils than the Black Kendah, inas- 
much as they were more clever. 

Shortly after this abortive attempt we debated our 
position with earnestness and came to a certain con- 
clusion, of which I will speak in its place. 

232 The Ivory Child 

If I remember right it was on this same night of our 
debate, after Harut's return from the mountain, that the 
first incident of interest happened. There were two 
rooms in our house divided by a partition which ran 
almost up to the roof. In the left-hand room slept 
Ragnall and Savage, and in that to the right Hans and 
I. Just at the breaking of dawn I was awakened by 
hearing some agitated conversation between Savage and 
his master. A minute later they both entered ray sleep- 
ing place, and I saw in the faint light that Ragnall 
looked very disturbed and Savage very frightened. 

"What's the matter?" I asked. 

"We have seen my wife," answered Ragnall. 

I stared at him and he went on : 

"Savage woke me by saying that there was someone 
in the room. I sat up and looked and, as I live, Quater- 
main, standing gazing at me in such a position that 
the light of dawn from the window-place fell upon her, 
was my wife." 

"How was she dressed?" I asked at once. 

"In a kind of white robe cut rather low, with her 
hair loose hanging to her waist, but carefully combed 
and held outspread by what appeared to be a bent piece 
of ivory about a foot and a half long, to which it was 
fastened by a thread of gold." 

"Is that all?" 

"No. Upon her breast was that necklace of red 
stones with the little image hanging from its centre 
which those rascals gave her and she always wore." 

"Anything more?" 

"Yes. In her arms she carried what looked like a 
veiled child. It was so still that I think it must have 
been dead." 

" Well. What happened ? " 

"I was so overcome I could not speak, and she 
stood gazing at me with wide-opened eyes, looking 

The Dweller in the Cave 233 

more beautiful than I can tell you. She never stirred, 
and her lips never moved that I will swear. And yet 
both of us heard her say, very low but quite clearly : 
'The mountain, George 1 Don't desert me. Seek me 
on the mountain, my dear, my husband.' " 

"Well, what next?" 

"I sprang up and she was gone. That's all." 

"Now tell me what you saw and heard, Savage." 

"What his lordship saw and heard, Mr. Quater- 
main, neither more nor less. Except that I was awake, 
having had one of my bad dreams about snakes, and 
saw her come through the door." 

"Through the door ! Was it open then ? " 

"No, sir, it was shut and bolted. She just came 
through it as if it wasn't there. Then I called to his 
lordship after she had been looking at him for half a 
minute or so, for I couldn't speak at first. There's one 
more thing, or rather two. On her head was a little 
cap that looked as though it had been made from the 
skin of a bird, with a gold snake rising up in front, 
which snake was the first thing I caught sight of, as 
of course it would be, sir. Also the dress she wore 
was so thin that through it I could see her shape and 
the sandals on her feet, which were fastened at the 
instep with studs of gold." 

"I saw no feather cap or snake," said Ragnall. 

"Then that's the oddest part of the whole business," 
I remarked. "Go back to your room, both of you, and 
if you see anything more, call me. I want to think 
things over." 

They went, in a bewildered sort of fashion, and I 
called Hans and spoke with him in a whisper, repeating 
to him the little that he had not understood of our talk, 
for as I have said, although he never spoke it, Hans 
knew a good deal of English. 

"Now, Hans," I said to him, "what is the use of 

234 The Ivory Child 

you ? You are no better than a fraud. You pretend 
to be the best watch-dog in Africa, and yet a woman 
comes into this house under your nose and in the grey 
of the morning, and you do not see her. Where is 
your reputation, Hans ? " 

The old fellow grew almost speechless with indig- 
nation, then he spluttered his answer : 

"It was not a woman, Baas, but a spook. Who am 
I that I should be expected to catch spooks as though 
they were thieves or rats? As it happens I was wide 
awake half an hour before the dawn and lay with my 
eyes fixed upon that door, which I bolted myself last 
night. It never opened, Baas; moreover, since this 
talk began I have been to look at it. During the night 
a spider has made its web from door-post to door-post, 
and that web is unbroken. If you do not believe me, 
come and see for yourself. Yet they say the woman 
came through the doorway and therefore through the 
spider's web. Oh ! Baas, what is the use of wasting 
thought upon the ways of spooks which, like the wind, 
come and go as they will, especially in this haunted 
land from which, as we have all agreed, we should do 
well to get away." 

I went and examined the door for myself, for by now 
my sciatica, or whatever it may have been, was so much 
better that I could walk a little. What Hans said 
was true. There was the spider's web with the spider 
sitting in the middle. Also some of the threads of the 
web were fixed from post to post, so that it was im- 
possible that the door could have been opened or, if 
opened, that anyone could have passed through the 
doorway without breaking them. Therefore, unless 
the woman came through one of the little window-places, 
which was almost incredible as they were high above 
the ground, or dropped from the smoke-hole in the 
roof, or had been shut into the place when the door was 
closed on the previous night, I could not see how she 

The Dweller in the Cave 235 

had arrived there. And if any one of these incredible 
suppositions was correct, then how did she get out again 
with two men watching her? 

There were only two solutions to the problem 
namely, that the whole occurrence was hallucination, 
or that, in fact, Ragnall and Savage had seen some- 
thing unnatural and uncanny. If the latter were cor- 
rect I only wished that I had shared the experience, as 
I have always longed to see a ghost. A real, indis- 
putable ghost would be a great support to our doubting 
minds, that is if we knew its owner to be dead. 

But this was another thought if by any chance Lady 
Ragnall were still alive and a prisoner upon that moun- 
tain, what they had seen was no ghost, but a shadow 
or simulacrum of a living person projected consciously 
or unconsciously by that person for some unknown 
purpose. What could the purpose be ? As it chanced 
the answer was not difficult, and to it the words she 
was reported to have uttered gave a cue. Only a few 
hours ago, just before we turned in indeed, as I have 
said, we had been discussing matters. What I have 
not said is that in the end we arrived at the conclusion 
that our quest here was wild and useless and that we 
should do well to try to escape from the place before 
we became involved in a war of extermination between 
two branches of an obscure tribe, one of which was 
quite and the other semi-savage. 

Indeed, although Ragnall still hung back a little, 
it had been arranged that I should try to purchase 
camels in exchange for guns, unless I could get them 
for nothing which might be less suspicious, and that 
we should attempt such an escape under cover of an 
expedition to kill the elephant Jana. 

Supposing such a vision to be possible, then might 
it not have come, or been sent to deter us from this 
plan? It would seem so. 

Thus reflecting I went to sleep worn out with 

236 The Ivory Child 

useless wonderment, and did not wake again till break- 
fast time. That morning, when we were alone 
together, Ragnall said to me : 

"I have been thinking over what happened, or 
seemed to happen last night. I am not at all a super- 
stitious man, or one given to vain imaginings, but I am 
sure that Savage and I really did see and hear the spirit 
or the shadow of my wife. Her body it could not have 
been as you will admit, though how she could utter, 
or seem to utter, audible speech without one is more 
than I can tell. Also I am sure that she is captive upon 
yonder mountain and came to call me to rescue her. 
Under these circumstances I feel that it is my duty, as 
well as my desire, to give up any idea of leaving the 
country and to try to find out the truth." 

"And how will you do that," I asked, "seeing that 
no one will tell us anything ? " 

"By going to see for myself." 

"It is impossible, Ragnall. I am too lame at present 
to walk half a mile, much less to climb precipices." 

"I know, and that is one of the reasons why I did 
not suggest that you should accompany me. The other 
is that there is no object in all of us risking our lives. 
I wished to face the thing alone, but that good fellow 
Savage says that he will go where I go, leaving you 
and Hans here to make further attempts if we do not 
return. Our plan is to slip out of the town during the 
night, wearing white dresses like the Kendah, of which 
I have bought some for tobacco, and make the best of 
our way up the slope by starlight that is very bright 
now. When dawn comes we will try to find the road 
through that precipice, or over it, and for the rest trust 
to Providence." 

Dismayed at this intelligence, I did all I could to 
dissuade him from such a mad venture, but quite with- 
out avail, for never did I know a more determined or 

The Dweller in the Cave 237 

more fearless man than Lord Ragnall. He had made 
up his mind and there was an end of the matter. After- 
wards I talked with Savage, pointing out to him all the 
perils involved in the attempt, but likewise without 
avail. He was more depressed than usual, apparently 
on the ground that "having seen the ghost of her lady- 
ship" he was sure he had not long to live. Still, he 
declared that where his master went he would go, as 
he preferred to die with him rather than alone. 

So I was obliged to give in and with a melancholy 
heart to do what I could to help in the simple prepara- 
tions for this crazy undertaking, realising all the while 
that the only real help must come from above, since in 
such a case man was powerless. I should add that 
after consultation, Ragnall gave up the idea of adopting 
a Kendah disguise which was certain to be discovered, 
also of starting at night when the town was guarded. 

That very afternoon they went, going out of the 
town quite openly on the pretext of shooting partridges 
and small buck on the lower slopes of the mountain, 
where both were numerous, as Harut had informed us 
we were quite at liberty to do. The farewell was some- 
what sad, especially with Savage, who gave me a letter 
he had written for his old mother in England, request- 
ing me to post it if ever again I came to a civilised land. 

I did my best to put a better spirit in him but without 
avail. He only wrung my hand warmly, said that it 
was a pleasure to have known such a " real gentleman " 
as myself, and expressed a hope that I might get out of 
this hell and live to a green old age amongst Christians. 
Then he wiped away a tear with the cuff of his coat, 
touched his hat in the orthodox fashion and departed. 
Their outfit, I should add, was very simple : some food 
in bags, a flask of spirits, two double-barrelled guns 
that would shoot either shot or ball, a bull's-eye lantern, 
matches and their pistols. 

238 The Ivory Child 

Hans walked with them a little way and, leaving 
them outside the town, returned. 

"Why do you look so gloomy, Hans? " I asked. 

"Because, Baas," he answered, twiddling his hat, 
"I had grown to be fond of the white man, Bena, who 
was always very kind to me and did not treat me like 
dirt as low-born whites are apt to do. Also he cooked 
well, and now I shall have to do that work which I 
do not like." 

"What do you mean, Hans? The man isn't dead, 
is he ? " 

"No, Baas, but soon he will be, for the shadow of 
death is in his eyes." 

" Then how about Lord Ragnall ? " 

"I saw no shadow in his eyes; I think that he will 
live, Baas." 

I tried to get some explanation of these dark sayings 
out of the Hottentot, but he would add nothing to his 

All the following night I lay awake filled with heavy 
fears which deepened as the hours went on. Just before 
dawn we heard a knocking on our door and Ragnall's 
voice whispering to us to open. Hans did so while I 
lit a candle, of which we had a good supply. As it 
burned up Ragnall entered, and from his face I saw at 
once that something terrible had happened. He went 
to the jar where we kept our water and drank three 
pannikinfuls, one after the other. Then without waiting 
to be asked, he said : 

"Savage is dead," and paused a while as though 
some awful recollection overcame him. "Listen," he 
went on presently. "We worked up the hillside with- 
out firing, although we saw plenty of partridges and 
one buck, till just as twilight was closing in, we came 
to the cliff face. Here we perceived a track that ran 
to the mouth of a narrow cave or tunnel in the lava 

The Dweller in the Cave 239 

rock of the precipice, which looked quite unclimbable. 
While we were wondering what to do, eight or ten 
white-robed men appeared out of the shadows and seized 
us before we could make any resistance. After talking 
together for a little they took away our guns and pistols, 
with which some of them disappeared. Then their 
leader, with many bows, indicated that we were at 
liberty to proceed by pointing first to the mouth of the 
cave, and next to the top of the precipice, saying some- 
thing about ' ingane,' which I believe means a little 
child, does it not ? " 

I nodded, and he went on : 

"After this they all departed down the hill, smiling 
in a fashion that disturbed me. We stood for a while 
irresolute, until it became quite dark. I asked Savage 
what he thought we had better do, expecting that he 
would say ' Return to the town.' To my surprise, he 
answered : 

"'Go on, of course, my lord. Don't let those 
brutes say that we white men daren't walk a step with- 
out our guns. Indeed, in any case I mean to go on, 
even if your lordship won't.' 

"Whilst he spoke he took a bull's-eye lantern from 
his food-bag, which had not been interfered with by the 
Kendah, and lit it. I stared at him amazed, for the 
man seemed to be animated by some tremendous pur- 
pose. Or rather it was as though a force from without 
had got hold of his will and were pushing him on to 
an unknown end. Indeed his next words showed that 
this was so, for he exclaimed : 

'There is something drawing me into that cave, 
my lord. It may be death; I think it is death, but 
whatever it be, go I must. Perhaps you would do well 
to stop outside till I have seen.' 

"I stepped forward to catch hold of the man, who 
I thought had gone mad, as perhaps was the case. 

240 The Ivory Child 

Before I could lay my hands on him he had run rapidly 
to the mouth of the cave. Of course I followed, but 
when I reached its entrance the star of light thrown 
forward by the bull's-eye lantern showed me that he 
was already about eight yards down the tunnel. Then I 
heard a terrible hissing noise and Savage exclaiming : 
' Oh 1 my God ! ' twice over. As he spoke the lantern 
fell from his hand, but did not go out, because, as you 
know, it is made to burn in any position. I leapt for- 
ward and picked it from the ground, and while I was 
doing so became aware that Savage was running still 
farther into the depths of the cave. I lifted the lantern 
above my head and looked. 

"This was what I saw: About ten paces from me 
was Savage with his arms outstretched and dancing 
yes, dancing first to the right and then to the left, with 
a kind of horrible grace and to the tune of a hideous 
hissing music. I held the lantern higher and per- 
ceived that beyond him, lifted eight or nine feet into 
the air, nearly to the roof of the tunnel in fact, was 
the head of the hugest snake of which I have ever heard. 
It was as broad as the bottom of a wheelbarrow were 
it cut off I think it would fill a large wheelbarrow 
while the neck upon which it was supported was quite 
as thick as my middle, and the undulating body behind 
it, which stretched far away into the darkness, was of 
the size of an eighteen-gallon cask and glittered green 
and grey, lined and splashed with silver and with gold. 

"It hissed and swayed its great head to the right 
holding Savage with cold eyes that yet seemed to 
on fire, whereon he danced to the right. It hissed agaii 
and swayed its head to the left, whereon he danced t( 
the left. Then suddenly it reared its head right tc 
the top of the cave and so remained for a few seconds, 
whereon Savage stood still, bending a little forwarc 
as though he were bowing to the reptile. Next instant 

The Dweller in the Cave 241 

like a flash it struck, for I saw its white fangs bury 
themselves in the back of Savage, who with a kind of 
sigh fell forward on to his face. Then there was a 
convulsion of those shining folds, followed by a sound 
as of bones being ground up in a steam-driven mortar. 

"I staggered against the wall of the cave and shut 
my eyes for a moment, for I felt faint. When I opened 
them again it was to see something flat, misshapen, 
elongated like a reflection in a spoon, something that 
had been Savage lying on the floor, and stretched out 
over it the huge serpent studying me with its steely 
eyes. Then I ran ; I am not ashamed to say I ran out 
of that horrible hole and far into the night." 

"Small blame to you," I said, adding : "Hans, give 
me some square-face neat." For I felt as queer as 
though I also had been in that cave with its guardian. 

"There is very little more to tell," went on Ragnall 
after I had drunk the hollands. "I lost my way on the 
mountain side and wandered for many hours, till at last 
I blundered up against one of the outermost houses of 
the town, after which things were easy. Perhaps I 
should add that wherever I went on my way down the 
mountain it seemed to me that I heard people laughing 
at me in an unnatural kind of voice. That's all." 

After this we sat silent for a long while, till at length 
Hans said in his unmoved tone : 

"The light has come, Baas. Shall I blow out the 
candle, which it is a pity to waste? Also, does the 
Baas wish me to cook the breakfast, now that the snake 
devil is making his off Bena, as I hope to make mine off 
him before all is done. Snakes are very good to eat, 
Baas, if you know how to dress them in the Hottentot 



A FEW hours later some of the White Kendah arrived 
at the house and very politely delivered to us Ragnall's 
and poor Savage's guns and pistols, which they said 
they had found lying in the grass on the mountain side, 
and with them the bull's-eye lantern that Ragnall had 
thrown away in his flight ; all of which articles I accepted 
without comment. That evening also Harut called and, 
after salutations, asked where Bena was as he did not 
see him. Then my indignation broke out : 

"Oh! white-bearded father of liars," I said, "you 
know well that he is in the belly of the serpent which 
lives in the cave of the mountain." 

"What, Lord 1 " exclaimed Harut addressing Rag- 
nall in his peculiar English, "have you been for walk 
up to hole in hill ? Suppose Bena want see big snake. 
He always very fond of snake, you know, and they very 
fond of him. You 'member how they come out of his 
pocket in your house in England ? Well, he know all 
about snake now." 

"You villain ! " exclaimed Ragnall, "you murderer ! 
I have a mind to kill you where you are." 

"Why you choke me, Lord, because snake choke 
your man ? Poor snake, he only want dinner. If you 
go where lion live, lion kill you. If you go where 
snake live, snake kill you. I tell you not go. You 
take no notice. Now I tell you all go if you wish, no 
one stop you. Perhaps you kill snake, who know? 
Only you no take gun there, please. That not allowed. 


Hans Steals the Keys 243 

When you tired of this town, go see snake. Only, 
'member that not right way to House of Child. There 
another way which you never find." 

"Look here," said Ragnall, "what is the use of all 
this foolery ? You know very well why we are in your 
devilish country. It is because I believe you have 
stolen my wife to make her the priestess of your evil 
religion whatever it may be, and I want her back." 

"All this great mistake," replied Harut blandly. 
"We no steal beautiful lady you marry because we find 
she not right priestess. Also Macumazana here not to 
look for lady but to kill elephant Jana and get pay in 
ivory like good business man. You, Lord, come with 
him as friend though we no ask you, that all. Then 
you try find temple of our god and snake which watch 
door kill your servant. Why we not kill you, eh ? " 

"Because you are afraid to," answered Ragnall 
boldly. " Kill me if you can and take the consequences. 
I am ready." 

Harut studied him not without admiration. 

"You very brave man," he said, "and we no wish 
kill you and p'raps after all everything come right in 
end. Only Child know about that. Also you help us 
fight Black Kendah by and by. So, Lord, you quite 
safe unless you big fool and go call on snake in cave. 
He very hungry snake and soon want more dinner. 
You hear, Light-in-Darkness, Lord-of-the-Fire," he 
added suddenly turning on Hans who was squatted 
near by twiddling his hat with a face that for absolute 
impassiveness resembled a deal board. "You hear, he 
very hungry snake, and you make nice tea for him." 

Hans rolled his little yellow eyes without even turn- 
ing his head until they rested on the stately countenance 
of Harut, and answered in Bantu : 

"I hear, Liar-with-the-White-Beard, but what have 
I to do with this matter ? Jana is my enemy who would 

244 The Ivory Child 

have killed Macumazana, my master, not your dirty 
snake. What is the good of this snake of yours? If 
it were any good, why does it not kill Jana whom you 
hate ? And if it is no good, why do you not take a 
stick and knock it on the head ? If you are afraid I will 
do so for you if you pay me. That for your snake," 
and very energetically he spat upon the floor. 

"All right," said Harut, still speaking in English, 
"you go kill snake. Go when you like, no one say 
no. Then we give you new name. Then we call you 

As Hans, who now was engaged in lighting his 
corn-cob pipe, did not deign to answer these remarks, 
Harut turned to me and said : 

"Lord Macumazana, your leg still bad, eh? Well, 
I bring you some ointment what make it quite well; 
it holy ointment come from the Child. We want you 
get well quick." 

Then suddenly he broke into Bantu. "My Lord, 
war draws near. The Black Kendah are gathering all 
their strength to attack us and we must have your aid. 
I go down to the River Tava to see to certain matters, 
as to the reaping of the outlying crops and other things. 
Within a week I will be back ; then we must talk again, 
for by that time, if you will use the ointment that I have 
given you, you will be as well as ever you were in your 
life. Rub it on your leg, and mix a piece as large as a 
mealie grain in water and swallow it at night. It is not 
poison, see," and taking the cover off a little earthen- 
ware pot which he produced, he scooped from it with 
his finger some of the contents, which looked like lard, 
put it on his tongue and swallowed it. 

Then he rose and departed with his usual bows. 

Here I may state that I used Harut's prescription 
with the most excellent results. That night I took a 
dose in water, very nasty it was, and rubbed my leg 

Hans Steals the Keys 245 

with the stuff, to find that next morning all pain had 
left me and that, except for some local weakness, I was 
practically quite well. I kept the rest of the salve for 
years, and it proved a perfect specific in cases of 
sciatica and rheumatism. Now, alas ! it is all used and 
no recipe is available from which it can be made up 

The next few days passed uneventfully. As soon 
as I could walk I began to go about the town, which 
was nothing but a scattered village much resembling 
those to be seen on the eastern coasts of Africa. Nearly 
all the men seemed to be away, making preparations 
for the harvest, I suppose, and as the women shut 
themselves up in their houses after the Oriental fashion, 
though the few that I saw about were unveiled and 
rather good-looking, I did not gather any intelligence 
worth noting. 

To tell the truth, I cannot remember being in a more 
uninteresting place than this little town with its ex- 
tremely uncommunicative population which, it seemed 
to me, lived under a shadow of fear that prevented all 
gaiety. Even the children, of whom there were not 
many, crept about in a depressed fashion and talked 
in a low voice. I never saw any of them playing games 
or heard them shouting and laughing, as young people 
do in most parts of the world. For the rest we were 
very well looked after. Plenty of food was provided 
for us and every thought taken for our comfort. Thus 
a strong and quiet pony was brought for me to ride 
because of my lameness. I had only to go out of the 
house and call and it arrived from somewhere, all ready 
saddled and bridled, in charge of a lad who appeared 
to be dumb. At any rate when I spoke to him he 
would not answer. 

Mounted on this pony I took one or two rides along 
the southern slopes of the mountain on the old pretext 

246 The Ivory Child 

of shooting for the pot. Hans accompanied me on 
these occasions, but was, I noted, very silent and 
thoughtful, as though he were hunting something up 
and down his tortuous intelligence. Once we got quite 
near to the mouth of the cave or tunnel where poor 
Savage had met his horrid end. As we stood studying 
it a white-robed man whose head was shaved, which 
made me think he must be a priest, came up and asked 
me mockingly why we did not go through the tunnel 
and see what lay beyond, adding, almost in the words 
of Harut himself, that none would attempt to interfere 
with us as the road was open to any who could travel 
it. By way of answer I only smiled and put him a 
few questions about a very beautiful breed of goats 
with long silky hair, some of which he seemed to be 
engaged in herding. He replied that these goats were 
sacred, being the food of "one who dwelt in the Moun- 
tain who only ate when the moon changed." 

When I inquired who this person was he said with 
his unpleasant smile that I had better go through the 
tunnel and see for myself, an invitation which I did not 

That evening Harut appeared unexpectedly, looking 
very grave and troubled. He was in a great hurry 
and only stayed long enough to congratulate me upon 
the excellent effects of his ointment, since "no man 
could fight Jana on one leg." 

I asked him when the fight with Jana was to come 
off. He replied : 

"Lord, I go up the Mountain to attend the Feast of 
the First-fruits, which is held at sunrise on the day of 
the new moon. After the offering the Oracle will speak 
and we shall learn when there will be war with Jana, 
and perchance other things." 

"May we not attend this feast, Harut, who are 
weary of doing nothing here? " 

Hans Steals the Keys 247 

"Certainly," he answered with his grave bow. 
"That is, if you come unarmed; for to appear before 
the Child with arms is death. You know the road; it 
runs through yonder cave and the forest beyond the 
cave. Take it when you will, Lord." 

"Then if we can pass the cave we shall be welcome 
at the feast?" 

"You will be very welcome. None shall hurt you 
there, going or returning. I swear it by the Child. 
Oh ! Macumazana," he added, smiling a little, "why do 
you talk folly, who know well that one dwells in yonder 
cave whom none may look upon and live, as Bena 
learned not long ago ? You are thinking that perhaps 
you might kill this Dweller in the cave with your 
weapons. Put away that dream, seeing that henceforth 
those who watch you have orders to see that none of 
you leave this house carrying so much as a knife. In- 
deed, unless you will promise me that this shall be so 
you will not be suffered to set foot outside its garden 
until I return again. Now do you promise ? " 

I thought a while and, drawing the two others aside 
out of hearing, asked them their opinion. 

Ragnall was at first unwilling to give any such 
promise, but Hans said : 

"Baas, it is better to go free and unhurt without 
guns and knives than to become a prisoner once more, 
as you were among the Black Kendah. Often there is 
but a short step between the prison and the grave." 

Both Ragnall and I acknowledged the force of this 
argument and in the end we gave the promise, speak- 
ing one by one. 

"It is enough," said Harut; "moreover, know, Lord, 
that among us White Kendah he who breaks an oath 
is put across the River Tava unarmed to make report 
thereof to Jana, Father of Lies. Now farewell. If we 
do not meet at the Feast of the First-fruits on the day 

248 The Ivory Child 

of the new moon, whither once more I invite you, we 
can talk together here after I have heard the voice of 
the Oracle." 

Then he mounted a camel which awaited him out- 
side the gate and departed with an escort of twelve 
men, also riding camels. 

"There is some other road up that mountain, Quater- 
main," said Ragnall. "A camel could sooner pass 
through the eye of a needle than through that dreadful 
cave, even if it were empty." 

"Probably," I answered, "but as we don't know 
where it is and I dare say it lies miles from here, we 
need not trouble our heads on the matter. The cave 
is our only road, which means that there is no road." 

That evening at supper we discovered that Hans 
was missing; also that he had got possession of my 
keys and broken into a box containing liquor, for there 
it stood open in the cooking-hut with the keys in the 

"He has gone on the drink," I said to Ragnall, 
"and upon my soul I don't wonder at it; for sixpence 
I would follow his example." 

Then we went to bed. Next morning we break- 
fasted rather late, since when one has nothing to do 
there is no object in getting up early. As I was pre- 
paring to go to the cook-house to boil some eggs, to 
our astonishment Hans appeared with a kettle of coffee. 

"Hans," I said, "you are a thief." 

"Yes, Baas," answered Hans. 

"You have been at the gin box and taking that 

"Yes, Baas, I have been taking poison. Also I 
took a walk and all is right now. The Baas must not 
be angry for it is very dull doing nothing here. Will 
the Baases eat porridge as well as eggs ? " 

As it was no use scolding him I said that we would. 

Hans Steals the Keys 249 

Moreover, there was something about his manner which 
made me suspicious, for really he did not look like a 
person who has just been very drunk. 

After we had finished breakfast he came and squatted 
down before me. Having lit his pipe he asked 
suddenly : 

"Would the Baases like to walk through that cave 
to-night? If so, there will be no trouble." 

" What do you mean ? " I asked, suspecting that 
he was still drunk. 

"I mean, Baas, that the Dweller-in-the-cave is fast 

" How do you know that, Hans ? " 

"Because I am the nurse who put him to sleep, 
Baas, though he kicked and cried a great deal. He is 
asleep ; he will wake no more. Baas, I have killed the 
Father of Serpents." 

"Hans," I said, "now I am sure that you are still 
drunk, although you do not show it outside." 

"Hans," added Ragnall, to whom I had translated 
as much of this as he did not understand, " it is too early 
in the day to tell good stories. How could you possibly 
have killed that serpent without a gun for you took 
none with you or with it either for that matter ? " 

"Will the Baases come and take a walk through the 
cave?" asked Hans with a snigger. 

"Not till I am quite sure that you are sober," I 
replied; then, remembering certain other events in this 
worthy's career, added: "Hans, if you do not tell us 
the story at once I will beat you." 

"There isn't much story, Baas," replied Hans 
between long sucks at his pipe, which had nearly gone 
out, "because the thing was so easy. The Baas is 
very clever and so is the Lord Baas, why then can they 
never see the stones that lie under their noses? It is 
because their eyes are always fixed upon the mountains 

250 The Ivory Child 

between this world and the next. But the poor Hot- 
tentot, who looks at the ground to be sure that he does 
not stumble, ah ! he sees the stones. Now, Baas, did 
you not hear that man in a nightshirt with his head 
shaved say that those goats were food for One who 
dwelt in the mountain ? " 

"I did. What of it, Hans?" 

"Who would be the One who dwelt in the moun- 
tain except the Father of Snakes in the cave, Baas? 
Ah ! now for the first time you see the stone that lay 
at your feet all the while. And, Baas, did not the bald 
man add that this One in the mountain was only fed 
at new and full moon, and is not to-morrow the day of 
new moon, and therefore would he not be very hungry 
on the day before new moon, that is, last night ? " 

"No doubt, Hans; but how can you kill a snake by 
feeding it ? " 

"Oh 1 Baas, you may eat things that make you ill, 
and so can a snake. Now you will guess the rest, so I 
had better go to wash the dishes." 

"Whether I guess or do not guess," I replied sagely, 
the latter being the right hypothesis, "the dishes can 
wait, Hans, since the Lord there has not guessed; so 

"Very well, Baas. In one of those boxes are some 
pounds of stuff which, when mixed with water, is used 
for preserving skins and skulls." 

"You mean the arsenic crystals," I said with a flash 
of inspiration. 

"I don't know what you call them, Baas. At first 
I thought they were hard sugar and stole some once, 
when the real sugar was left behind, to put into the 
coffee without telling the Baas, because it was my fault 
that the sugar was left behind." 

"Great Heavens!" I ejaculated, "then why aren't 
we all dead ? '' 

Hans Steals the Keys 251 

"Because at the last moment, Baas, I thought I 
would make sure, so I put some of the hard sugar into 
hot milk and, when it had melted, I gave it to that 
yellow dog which once bit me in the leg, the one that 
came from Beza-Town, Baas, that I told you had run 
away. He was a very greedy dog, Baas, and drank up 
the milk at once. Then he gave a howl, twisted about, 
foamed at the mouth and died and I buried him at 
once. After that I threw some more of the large sugar 
mixed with mealies to the fowls that we brought with us 
for cooking. Two cocks and a hen swallowed them by 
mistake for the corn. Presently they fell on their 
backs, kicked a little and died. Some of the Mazitu, 
who were great thieves, stole those dead fowls, Baas. 
After this, Baas, I thought it best not to use that sugar 
in the coffee, and later on Bena told me that it was 
deadly poison. Well, Baas, it came into my mind 
that if I could make that great snake swallow enough 
of this poison, he, too, might die. 

"So I stole your keys, as I often do, Baas, when I 
want anything, because you leave them lying about 
everywhere, and to deceive you first opened one of 
the boxes that are full of square-face and brandy and 
left it open, for I wished you to think that I had just 
gone to get drunk like anybody else. Then I opened 
another box and got out two one-pound tins of the sugar 
which kills dogs and fowls. Half a pound of it I melted 
in boiling water with some real sugar to make the stuff 
sweet, and put it into a bottle. The rest I tied with 
string into twelve little packets in the soft paper which 
is in one of the boxes, and put them in my pocket. 
Then I went up the hill, Baas, to the place where I 
saw those goats are kraaled at night behind a reed 
fence. As I had hoped, no one was watching them 
because there are no tigers so near this town, and man 
does not steal the goats that are sacred. I went into 

252 The Ivory Child 

the kraal and found a fat young ewe which had a kid. 
I dragged it out and, taking it behind some stones, I 
made its legs fast with a bit of cord and poured this 
stuff out of the bottle all over its skin, rubbing it in well. 
Then I tied the twelve packets of hard poison-sugar 
everywhere about its body, making them very fast deep 
in the long hair so that they could not tumble or rub 

" After this I untied the goat, led it near to the mouth 
of the cave and held it there for a time while it kept 
on bleating for its kid. Next I took it almost up to the 
cave, wondering how I should drive it in, for I did not 
wish to enter there myself, Baas. As it happened I 
need not have troubled about that. When the goat 
was within five yards of the cave, it stopped bleating, 
stood still and shivered. Then it began to go forward 
with little jumps, as though it did not want to go, yet 
must do so. Also, Baas, I felt as though I wished 
to go with it. So I lay down and put my heels against 
a rock, leaving go of the goat. 

"For now, Baas, I did not care where that goat 
went so long as I could keep out of the hole where 
dwelt the Father of Serpents that had eaten Bena. But 
it was all right, Baas ; the goat knew what it had to do 
and did it, jumping straight into the cave. As it 
entered it turned its head and looked at me. I could 
see its eyes in the starlight, and, Baas, they were dread- 
ful. I think it knew what was coming and did not 
like it at all. And yet it had to walk on because it 
could not help it. Just like a man going to the devil, 

"Holding on to the stone I peeped after it, for I 
had heard something stirring in the cave making a soft 
noise like a white lady's dress upon the floor. There in 
the blackness I saw two little sparks of fire, which were 
the eyes of the serpent, Baas. Then I heard a sound 

Hans Steals the Keys 253 

of hissing like four big kettles boiling all at once, and 
a little bleat from the goat. After this there was a 
noise as of men wrestling, followed by another noise as 
of bones breaking, and lastly, yet another sucking 
noise as of a pump that won't draw up the water. Then 
everything grew nice and quiet and I went some way 
off, sat down a little to one side of the cave, and waited 
to see if anything happened. 

"It must have been nearly an hour later that some- 
thing did begin to happen, Baas. It was as though 
sacks filled with chaff were being beaten against stone 
walls there in the cave. Ah ! thought I to myself, 
your stomach is beginning to ache, Eater-up-of-Bena, 
and, as that goat had little horns on its head to which 
I tied two of the bags of the poison, Baas and, like all 
snakes, no doubt you have spikes in your throat point- 
ing downwards, you won't be able to get it up again. 
Then I expect this was after the poison-sugar had 
begun to melt nicely in the serpent's stomach, Baas 
there was a noise as though a whole company of girls 
were dancing a war-dance in the cave to a music of 

" And then oh ! then, Baas, of a sudden that Father 
of Serpents came out. I tell you, Baas, that when I 
saw him in the bright starlight my hair stood up upon 
my head, for never has there been such another snake 
in the whole world. Those that live in trees and eat 
bucks in Zululand, of whose skins white men make 
waistcoats and slippers, are but babies compared to this 
one. He came out, yard after yard of him. He 
wriggled about, he stood upon his tail with his head 
where the top of a tree might be, he made himself into 
a ring, he bit at stones and at his own stomach, while I 
hid behind my rock praying to your reverend father 
that he might not see me. Then at last he rushed away 
down the hill, faster than any horse could gallop. 

254 The Ivory Child 

"Now I hoped that he had gone for good and 
thought of going myself. Still I feared to do so lest 
I should meet him somewhere, so I made up my mind 
to wait till daylight. It was as well, Baas, for about 
half an hour later he came back again. Only now he 
could not jump, he could only crawl. Never in my 
life did I see a snake look so sick, Baas. Into the cave 
he went and lay there hissing. By degrees the hisses 
grew very faint, till at length they died away altogether. 
I waited another half-hour, Baas, and then I grew so 
curious that I thought that I would go to look in the 

" I lit the little lantern I had with me and, holding it 
in one hand and my stick in the other, I crept into the 
hole. Before I had crawled ten paces I saw something 
white stretched along the ground. It was the belly of 
the great snake, Baas, which lay upon its back quite 

" I know that it was dead, for I lit three wax matches, 
setting them to burn upon its tail and it never stirred, 
as any live snake will do when it feels fire. Then I 
came home, Baas, feeling very proud because I had 
outwitted that great-grandfather of all snakes who killed 
Bena my friend, and had made the way clear for us to 
walk through the cave. 

"That is all the story, Baas. Now I must go to 
wash those dishes," and without waiting for any com- 
ment off he went, leaving us marvelling at his wit, 
resource and courage. 

"What next?" I asked presently. 

"Nothing till to-night," answered Ragnall with deter- 
mination, "when I am going to look at the snake 
which the noble Hans has killed and whatever lies 
beyond the cave, as you will remember Harut invited 
us to do unmolested, if we could." 

" Do you think Harut will keep his word, Ragnall ? " 

Hans Steals the Keys 255 

"On the whole, yes, and if he doesn't I don't care. 
Anything is better than sitting here in this suspense." 

"I agree as to Harut, because we are too valuable 
to be killed just now, if for no other reason ; also as to 
the suspense, which is unendurable. Therefore I will 
walk with you to look at that snake, Ragnall, and so 
no doubt will Hans. The exercise will do my leg 

"Do you think it wise?" he asked doubtfully; "in 
your case, I mean ? " 

"I think it most unwise that we should separate 
any more. We had better stand or fall altogether; 
further, we do not seem to have any luck apart." 



THAT evening shortly after sundown the three of us 
started boldly from our house wearing over our clothes 
the Kendah dresses which Ragnall had bought, and 
carrying nothing save sticks in our hands, some food 
and the lantern in our pockets. On the outskirts of 
the town we were met by certain Kendah, one of whom 
I knew, for I had often ridden by his side on our march 
across the desert. 

"Have any of you arms upon you, Lord Macu- 
mazana?" he asked, looking curiously at us and our 
white robes. 

"None," I answered. "Search us if you will." 

"Your word is sufficient," he replied with the grave 
courtesy of his people. " If you are unarmed we have 
orders to let you go where you wish however you may 
be dressed. Yet, Lord," he whispered to me, "I pray 
you do not enter the cave, since One lives there who 
strikes and does not miss, One whose kiss is death. I 
pray it for your own sakes, also for ours who need you." 

"We shall not wake him who sleeps in the cave," I 
answered enigmatically, as we departed rejoicing, for 
now we had learned that the Kendah did not yet know 
of the death of the serpent. 

An hour's walk up the hill, guided by Hans, brought 
us to the mouth of the tunnel. To tell the truth I could 
have wished it had been longer, for as we drew near 
all sorts of doubts assailed me. What if Hans really 
had been drinking and invented this story to account 


The Sanctuary and the Oath 257 

for his absence? What if the snake had recovered 
from a merely temporary indisposition ? What if it 
had a wife and family living in that cave, every one of 
them thirsting for vengeance ? 

Well, it was too late to hesitate now, but secretly I 
hoped that one of the others would prefer to lead the 
way. We reached the place and listened. It was 
silent as a tomb. Then that brave fellow Hans lit the 
lantern and said : 

"Do you stop here, Baases, while I go to look. If 
you hear anything happen to me, you will have time to 
run away," words that made me feel somewhat ashamed 
of myself. 

However, knowing that he was quick as a weasel 
and silent as a cat, we let him go. A minute or two 
later suddenly he reappeared out of the darkness, for 
he had turned the metal shield over the bull's-eye of 
the lantern, and even in that light I could see that he 
was grinning. 

"It is all right, Baas," he said. "The Father of 
Serpents has really gone to that land whither he sent 
Bena, where no doubt he is now roasting in the fires 
of hell, and I don't see any others. Come and look 
at him." 

So in we went and there, true enough, upon the 
floor of the cave lay the huge reptile stone dead and 
already much swollen. I don't know how long it was, 
for part of its body was twisted into coils, so I will only 
say that it was by far the most enormous snake that I 
have ever seen. It is true that I have heard of such 
reptiles in different parts of Africa, but hitherto I had 
always put them down as fabulous creatures transformed 
into and worshipped as local gods. Also this particular 
specimen was, I presume, of a new variety, since, 
according to Ragnall, it both struck like the cobra or 
the adder and crushed like the boa-constrictor. It is 

258 The Ivory Child 

possible, however, that he was mistaken on this point; 
I do not know, since I had no time, or indeed inclina- 
tion, to examine its head for the poison fangs, and when 
next I passed that way it was gone. 

I shall never forget the stench of that cave. It was 
horrible, which is not to be wondered at seeing that 
probably this creature had dwelt there for centuries, since 
these large snakes are said to be as long lived as tor- 
toises and, being sacred, of course it had never lacked 
for food. Everywhere lay piles of cast bones, amongst 
one of which I noticed fragments of a human skull, 
perhaps that of poor Savage. Also the projecting 
rocks in the place were covered with great pieces of 
snake skin, doubtless rubbed off by the reptile when 
once a year it changed its coat. 

For a while we gazed at the loathsome and still glit- 
tering creature, then pushed on fearful lest we should 
stumble upon more of its kind. I suppose that it must 
have been solitary, a kind of serpent rogue, as Jana was 
an elephant rogue, for we met none and, if the informa- 
tion which I obtained afterwards may be believed, there 
was no species at all resembling it in the country. What 
its origin may have been I never learned. All that the 
Kendah could or would say about it was that it had 
lived in this hole from the beginning and that Black 
Kendah prisoners, or malefactors, were sometimes given 
to it to kill, as White Kendah prisoners were given to 

The cave itself proved to be not very long, perhaps 
one hundred and fifty feet, no more. It was not an 
artificial but a natural hollow in the lava rock, which I 
suppose had once been blown through it by an outburst 
of steam. Towards the farther end it narrowed so much 
that I began to fear there might be no exit. In this I 
was mistaken, however, for at its termination we found 
a hole just large enough for a man to walk in upright 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 259 

and so difficult to climb through that it became clear 
to us that certainly this was not the path by which the 
White Kendah approached their sanctuary. 

Scrambling out of this aperture with thankfulness, we 
found ourselves upon the slope of a kind of huge ditch 
of lava which ran first downwards for about eighty 
paces, then up again to the base of the great cone of 
the inner mountain which was covered with dense forest. 

I presume that the whole formation of this peculiar 
hill was the result of violent volcanic action in the early 
ages of the earth. But as I do not understand such 
matters I will not dilate upon them further than to say 
that, although comparatively small, it bore a certain 
resemblance to other extinct volcanoes which I had met 
with in different parts of Africa. 

We climbed down to the bottom of the ditch that 
from its general appearance might have been dug out 
by some giant race as a protection to their stronghold, 
and up its farther side to where the forest began on 
deep and fertile soil. Why there should have been 
rich earth here and none in the ditch is more than we 
could guess, but perhaps the presence of springs of 
water in this part of the mount may have been a cause. 
At any rate it was so. 

The trees in this forest were huge and of a variety 
of cedar, but did not grow closely together; also there 
was practically no undergrowth, perhaps for the reason 
that their dense, spreading tops shut out the light. As 
I saw afterwards both trunks and boughs were clothed 
with long grey moss, which even at midday gave the 
place a very ghostly appearance. The darkness be- 
neath those trees was intense, literally we could not see 
an inch before our faces. Yet rather than stand still 
we struggled on, Hans leading the way, for his instincts 
were quicker than ours. The steep rise of the ground 
beneath our feet told us that we were going uphill, as 

260 The Ivory Child 

we wished to do, and from time to time I consulted a 
pocket compass I carried by the light of a match, know- 
ing from previous observations that the top of the 
Holy Mount lay due north. 

Thus for hour after hour we crept up and on, occa- 
sionally butting into the trunk of a tree or stumbling 
over a fallen bough, but meeting with no other adven- 
tures or obstacles of a physical kind. Of moral, or 
rather mental, obstacles there were many, since to all 
of us the atmosphere of this forest was as that of a 
haunted house. It may have been the embracing 
darkness, or the sough of the night wind amongst the 
boughs and mosses, or the sense of the imminent 
dangers that we had passed and that still awaited us. 
Or it may have been unknown horrors connected with 
this place of which some spiritual essence still survived, 
for without doubt localities preserve such influences, 
which can be felt by the sensitive among living things, 
especially in favouring conditions of fear and gloom. 
At any rate I never experienced more subtle and yet 
more penetrating terrors than I did upon that night, 
and afterwards Ragnall confessed to me that my case 
was his own. Black as it was I thought that I saw 
apparitions, among them glaring eyes and that of the 
elephant Jana standing in front of me with his trunk 
raised against the bole of a cedar. I could have sworn 
that I saw him, nor was I reassured when Hans whis- 
pered to me below his breath, for here we did not seem 
to dare to raise our voices : 

"Look, Baas. Is it Jana glowing like hot iron who 
stands yonder ? " 

"Don't be a fool," I answered. "How can Jana be 
here and, if he were here, how could we see him in the 
night ? " But as I said the words I remembered Harut 
had told us that Jana had been met with on the Holy 
Mount "in the spirit or in the flesh." However this may 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 261 

be, next instant he was gone and we beheld him or 
his shadow no more. Also we thought that from time 
to time we heard voices speaking all around us, now 
here, now there and now in the tree tops above our 
heads, though what they said we could not catch or 

Thus the long night wore away. Our progress was 
very slow, but guided by occasional glimpses at the 
compass we never stopped but twice, once when we 
found ourselves apparently surrounded by tree boles 
and fallen boughs, and once when we got into swampy 
ground. Then we took the risk of lighting the lantern, 
and by its aid picked our way through these difficult 
places. By degrees the trees grew fewer so that we 
could see the stars between their tops. This was a help 
to us as I knew that one of them, which I had carefully 
noted, shone at this season of the year directly over the 
cone of the mountain, and we were enabled to steer 

It must have been not more than half an hour before 
the dawn that Hans, who was leading we were push- 
ing our way through thick bushes at the time halted 
hurriedly, saying : 

"Stop, Baas, we are on the edge of a cliff. When 
I thrust my stick forward it stands on nothing." 

Needless to say we pulled up dead and so remained 
without stirring an inch, for who could say what might 
be beyond us ? Ragnall wished to examine the ground 
with the lantern. I was about to consent, though 
doubtfully, when suddenly I heard voices murmuring 
and through the screen of bushes saw lights moving at 
a little distance, forty feet or more below us. Then we 
gave up all idea of making further use of the lantern 
and crouched still as mice in our bushes, waiting for the 

It came at last. In the east appeared a faint pearly 

262 The Ivory Child 

flush that by degrees spread itself over the whole arch 
of the sky and was welcomed by the barking of 
monkeys and the call of birds in the depths of the dew- 
steeped forest. Next a ray from the unrisen sun, a 
single spear of light shot suddenly across the sky, and as 
it appeared, from the darkness below us arose a sound of 
chanting, very low and sweet to hear. It died away 
and for a little while there was silence broken only by 
a rustling sound like to that of people taking their seats 
in a dark theatre. Then a woman began to sing in a 
beautiful, contralto voice, but in what language I do not 
know, for I could catch nothing of the words, if these 
were words and not only musical notes. 

I felt Ragnall trembling beside me and in a whisper 
asked him what was the matter. He answered, also in 
a whisper : 

"I believe that is my wife's voice." 

"If so, I beg you to control yourself," I replied. 

Now the skies began to flame and the light to pour 
itself into a misty hollow beneath us like streams of 
many-coloured gems into a bowl, driving away the 
shadows. By degrees these vanished; by degrees we 
saw everything. Beneath us was an amphitheatre, on 
the southern wall of which we were seated, though it 
was not a wall but a lava cliff between forty and fifty 
feet high which served as a wall. The amphitheatre 
itself, however, almost exactly resembled those of the 
ancients which I had seen in pictures and Ragnall had 
visited in Italy, Greece and Southern France. It was 
oval in shape and not very large, perhaps the flat space 
at the bottom may have covered something over an acre, 
but all around this oval ran tiers of seats cut in the lava 
of the crater. For without doubt this was the crater of 
an extinct volcano. 

Moreover, in what I will call the arena stood a temple 
that in its main outlines, although small, exactly re- 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 263 

sembled those still to be seen in Egypt. There was the 
gateway or pylon; there the open outer court with 
columns round it supporting roofed cloisters, which, 
as we ascertained afterwards, were used as dwelling- 
places by the priests. There beyond and connected 
with the first by a short passage was a second rather 
smaller court, also open to the sky, and beyond this 
again, built like all the rest of the temple of lava blocks, 
a roofed erection measuring about twelve feet square, 
which I guessed at once must be the sanctuary. 

This temple was, as I have said, small, but extremely 
well proportioned, every detail of it being in the most 
excellent taste though unornamented by sculpture or 
painting. I have to add that in front of the sanctuary 
door stood a large block of lava, which I concluded was 
an altar, and in front of this a stone seat and a basin., 
also of stone, supported upon a very low tripod. 
Further, behind the sanctuary was a square house with 

At the moment of our first sight of this place the 
courts were empty, but on the benches of the amphi- 
theatre were seated about three hundred persons, male 
and female, the men to the north and the women to the 
south. They were all clad in pure white robes, the 
heads of the men being shaved and those of the women 
veiled, but leaving the face exposed. Lastly, there were 
two roadways into this amphitheatre, one running east 
and one west through tunnels hollowed in the encircling 
rock of the crater, both of which roads were closed at 
the mouths of the tunnels by massive wooden double 
doors, seventeen or eighteen feet in height. From these 
roadways and their doors we learned two things. First, 
that the cave where had lived the Father of Serpents was, 
as I had suspected, not the real approach to the shrine 
of the Child, but only a blind ; and, secondly, that the 
ceremony we were about to witness was secret and 

264 The Ivory Child 

might only be attended by the priestly class or families 
of this strange tribe. 

Scarcely, was it full daylight when from the cells of 
the cloisters round the outer court issued twelve priests 
headed by Harut himself, who looked very dignified 
in his white garment, each of whom carried on a wooden 
platter ears of different kinds of corn. Then from the 
cells of the southern cloister issued twelve women, or 
rather girls, for all were young and very comely, who 
ranged themselves alongside of the men. These also 
carried wooden platters, and on them blooming flowers. 

At a sign they struck up a religious chant and 
began to walk forward through the passage that led 
from the first court to the second. Arriving in front 
of the altar they halted and one by one, first a priest 
and then a priestess, set down the platters of offerings, 
piling them above each other into a cone. Next the 
priests and the priestesses ranged themselves in lines 
on either side of the altar, and Harut took a platter of 
corn and a platter of flowers in his hands. These he 
held first towards that quarter of the sky in which swam 
the invisible new moon, secondly towards the rising 
sun, and thirdly towards the doors of the sanctuary, 
making genuflections and uttering some chanted prayer, 
the words of which we could not hear. 

A pause followed, that was succeeded by a sudden 
outburst of song wherein all the audience took part. It 
was a very sonorous and beautiful song or hymn in 
some language which I did not understand, divided into 
four verses, the end of each verse being marked by the 
bowing of every one of those many singers towards the 
east, towards the west, and finally towards the altar. 

Another pause till suddenly the doors of the sanc- 
tuary were thrown wide and from between them issued 
the goddess Isis of the Egyptians as I have seen 
her in pictures ! She was wrapped in closely clinging 

" The doors of the sanctuary were thrown wide and from 

between them issued the goddess Isis of the Egyptians " 

(see -page 264). 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 265 

draperies of material so thin that the whiteness of her 
body could be seen beneath. Her hair was outspread 
behind her, and she wore a head-dress or bonnet of 
glittering feathers from the front of which rose a little 
golden snake. In her arms she bore what at that 
distance seemed to be a naked child. With her came 
two women, walking a little behind her and supporting 
her arms, who also wore feather bonnets but without 
the golden snake, and were clad in tight-fitting, 
transparent garments. 

"My God! " whispered Ragnall, "it is my wife! " 

"Then be silent and thank Him that she is alive and 
well," I answered. 

The goddess Isis, or the English lady in that ex- 
citement I did not reck which stood still while the 
priests and priestesses and all the audience, who, 
gathered on the upper benches of the amphitheatre, 
could see her above the wall of the inner court, raised 
a thrice-repeated and triumphant cry of welcome. Then 
Harut and the first priestess lifted respectively an ear 
of corn and a flower from the two topmost platters and 
held these first to the lips of the child in her arms and 
secondly to her lips. 

This ceremony concluded, the two attendant women 
led her round the altar to the stone chair, upon which 
she seated herself. Next fire was kindled in the bowl 
on the tripod in front of the chair, how I could not see ; 
but perhaps it was already smouldering there. At any 
rate it burnt up in a thin blue flame, on to which Harut 
and the head priestess threw something that caused the 
flame to turn to smoke. Then Isis, for I prefer to call 
her so while describing this ceremony, was caused to 
bend her head forward, so that it was enveloped in the 
smoke exactly as she and I had done some years before 
in the drawing-room at Ragnall Castle. Presently the 
smoke died away and the two attendants with the 

266 The Ivory Child 

feathered head-dresses straightened her in the chair 
where she sat still holding the babe against her breast 
as she might have done to nurse it, but with her head 
bent forward like that of a person in a swoon. 

Now Harut stepped forward and appeared to speak 
to the goddess at some length, then fell back again and 
waited, till in the midst of an intense silence she rose 
from her seat and, fixing her wide eyes on the heavens, 
spoke in her turn, for although we heard nothing of 
what she said, in that clear, morning light we could see 
her lips moving. For some minutes she spoke, then 
sat down again upon the chair and remained motionless, 
staring straight in front of her. Hartit advanced again, 
this time to the front of the altar, and, taking his stand 
upon a kind of stone step, addressed the priests and 
priestesses and all the encircling audience in a voice so 
loud and clear that I could distinguish and understand 
every word he said. 

"The Guardian of the heavenly Child, the Nurse 
decreed, the appointed Nurturer, She who is the shadow 
of her that bore the Child, She who in her day bears 
the symbol of the Child and is consecrated to its service 
from of old, She whose heart is filled with the wisdom 
of the Child and who utters the decrees of Heaven, has 
spoken. Hearken now to the voice of the Oracle uttered 
in answer to the questions of me, Harut, the head priest 
of the Eternal Child during my life-days. Thus says 
the Oracle, the Guardian, the Nurturer, marked like all 
who went before her with the holy mark of the new 
moon, She on whom the spirit, flitting from generation 
to generation, has alighted for a while. ' O People of 
the White Kendah, worshippers of the Child in this 
land and descendants of those who for thousands of 
years worshipped the Child in a more ancient land until 
the barbarians drove it thence with the remnant that 
remained. .War is upon you, O People of the White 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 267 

Kendah. Jana the evil one; he whose other name is 
Set, he whose other name is Satan, he who for this 
while lives in the shape of an elephant, he who is 
worshipped by the thousands whom once you con- 
quered, and whom still you bridle by my might, comes 
up against you. The Darkness wars against the Day- 
light, the Evil wars against the Good. My curse has 
fallen upon the people of Jana, my hail has smitten 
them, their corn and their cattle; they have no food to 
eat. But they are still strong for war and there is food 
in your land. They come to take your corn ; Jana 
comes to trample your god. The Evil comes to destroy 
the Good, the Night to devour the Day. It is the last 
of many battles. How shall you conquer, O People 
of the Child? Not by your own strength, for you are 
few in number and Jana is very strong. Not by the 
strength of the Child, for the Child grows weak and 
old, the days of its dominion are almost done, and its 
worship is almost outworn. Here alone that worship 
lingers, but new gods, who are still the old gods, press 
on to take its place and to lead it to its rest.' 

"How then shall you conquer that, when the Child 
has departed to its own place, a remnant of you may 
still remain ? In one way only so says the Guardian, 
the Nurturer of the Child speaking with the voice of 
the Child; by the help of those whom you have sum- 
moned to your aid from far. There were four of them, 
but one you have suffered to be slain in the maw of the 
Watcher in the cave. It was an evil deed, O sons and 
daughters of the Child, for as the Watcher is now dead, 
so ere long many of you who planned this deed must 
die who, had it not been for that man's blood, would 
have lived on a while. Why did you do this thing? 
That you might keep a secret, the secret of the theft of 
a woman, that you might continue to act a lie which 
falls upon your head like a stone from heaven. 

268 The Ivory Child 

"Thus saith the Child: 'Lift no hand against the 
three who remain, and what they shall ask, that give, for 
thus alone shall some of you be saved from Jana and 
those who serve him, even though the Guardian and 
the Child be taken away and the Child itself return to 
its own place.' These are the words of the Oracle 
uttered at the Feast of the First-fruits, the words that 
cannot be changed and mayhap its last." 

Harut ceased, and there was silence while this por- 
tentous message sank into the minds of his audience. 
At length they seemed to understand its ominous nature 
and from them all there arose a universal, simultaneous 
groan. As it died away the two attendants dressed as 
goddesses assisted the personification of the Lady Isis 
to rise from her seat and, opening the robes upon her 
breast, pointed to something beneath her throat, doubt- 
less that birthmark shaped like the new moon which 
made her so sacred in their eyes, since she who bore it 
and she alone could fill her holy office. 

All the audience and with them the priests and 
priestesses bowed before her. She lifted the symbol 
of the Child, holding it high above her head, whereon 
once more they bowed with the deepest veneration. 
Then still holding the effigy aloft, she turned and with 
her two attendants passed into the sanctuary and 
doubtless thence by a covered way into the house 
beyond. At any rate we saw her no more. 

As soon as she was gone the congregation, if I may 
call it so, leaving their seats, swarmed down into the 
outer court of the temple through its eastern gate, which 
was now opened. Here the priests proceeded to dis- 
tribute among them the offerings taken from the altar, 
giving a grain of corn to each of the men to eat and a 
flower to each of the women, which flower she kissed 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 269 

and hid in the bosom of her robe. Evidently it was a 
kind of sacrament. 

Ragnall lifted himself a little upon his hands and 
knees, and I saw that his eyes glowed and his face was 
very pale. 

"What are you going to do?" I asked. 

"Demand that those people give me back my wife, 
whom they have stolen. Don't try to stop me, Quater- 
main, I mean what I say." 

"But, but," I stammered, "they never will and we 
are but three unarmed men." 

Hans lifted up his little yellow face between us. 

"Baas," he hissed, "I have a thought. The Lord 
Baas wishes to get the lady dressed like a bird as to her 
head and like one for burial as to her body, who is, he 
says, his wife. But for us to take her from among so 
many is impossible. Now what did that old witch- 
doctor Harut declare just now ? He declared, speak- 
ing for his fetish, that by our help alone the White 
Kendah can resist the hosts of the Black Kendah and 
that no harm must be done to us if the White Kendah 
would continue to live. So it seems, Baas, that we 
have something to sell which the White Kendah must 
buy, namely our help against the Black Kendah, for 
if we will not fight for them, they believe that they 
cannot conquer their enemies and kill the devil Jana. 
Well now, supposing that the Baas says that our price 
is the white woman dressed like a bird, to be delivered 
over to us when we have defeated the Black Kendah and 
killed Jana after which they will have no more use 
for her. And supposing that the Baas says that if they 
refuse to pay that price we will burn all our powder and 
cartridges so that the rifles we have are of no use ? Is 
there not a path to walk on here ? " 

"Perhaps," I answered. "Something of the sort was 
working in my mind but I had no time to think it out." 

270 The Ivory Child 

Turning, I explained the idea to Ragnall, adding : 

"I pray you not to be rash. If you are, not only 
may we be killed, which does not so much matter, but 
it is very probable that even if they spare us they will 
put an end to your wife rather than suffer one whom 
they look upon as holy and who is necessary to their 
faith in its last struggle to be separated from her charge 
of the Child." 

This was a fortunate argument of mine and one 
which went home. 

"To lose her now would be more than I could bear," 
he muttered. 

"Then will you promise to let me try to manage this 
affair and not to interfere with me and show violence ? " 

He hesitated a moment and answered : 

"Yes, I promise, for you two are cleverer than I 
am and I cannot trust my judgment." 

"Good," I said, assuming an air of confidence which 
I did not feel. "Now we will go down to call upon 
Harut and his friends. I want to have a closer look at 
that temple." 

So behind our screen of bushes we wriggled back 
a little distance till we knew that the slope of the ground 
would hide us when we stood up. Then as quickly 
as we could we made our way eastwards for something 
over a quarter of a mile and after this turned to the 
north. As I expected, beyond the ring of the crater we 
found ourselves on the rising, tree-clad tosom of the 
mountain and, threading our path through the cedars, 
came presently to that track or roadway which led to 
the eastern gate of the amphitheatre. This road we 
followed unseen until presently the gateway appeared 
before us. We walked through it without attracting 
any attention, perhaps because all the people were either 
talking together, or praying, or perhaps because like 
themselves we were wrapped in white robes. At the 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 271 

mouth of the tunnel we stopped and I called out in a 
loud voice : 

"The white lords and their servant have come to 
visit Harut, as he invited them to do. Bring us, we 
pray you, into the presence of Harut." 

Everyone wheeled round and stared at us standing 
there in the shadow of the gateway tunnel, for the sun 
behind us was still low. My word, how they did stare ! 
A voice cried : 

" Kill them ! Kill these strangers who desecrate our 

"What!" I answered. "Would you kill those to 
whom your high-priest has given safe-conduct; those 
moreover by whose help alone, as your Oracle has just 
declared, you can hope to slay Jana and destroy his 

"How do they know that?" shouted another voice. 
" They are magicians ! They are magicians ! " 

"Yes," I remarked, "all magic does not dwell in the 
hearts of the White Kendah. If you doubt it, go to 
look at the Watcher in the Cave whom your Oracle told 
you is dead. You will find that it did not lie." 

As I spoke a man rushed through the gates, his 
white robe streaming on the wind, shouting as he 
emerged from the tunnel : 

"O Priests and Priestesses of the Child, the ancient 
serpent is dead. I whose office it is to feed the serpent 
on the day of the new moon have found him dead in 
his house." 

"You hear," I interpolated calmly. "The Father of 
Snakes is dead. If you want to know how, I will tell 
you. We looked on it and it died." 

They might have answered that poor Savage also 
looked on it with the result that he died, but luckily it did 
not occur to them to do so. On the contrary, they just 
stood still and stared at us like a flock of startled sheep. 

272 The Ivory Child 

Presently the sheep parted and the shepherd in the 
shape of Harut appeared looking, I reflected, the very 
picture of Abraham softened by a touch of the melan- 
cholia of Job, that is, as I have always imagined those 
patriarchs. He bowed to us with his usual Oriental 
courtesy, and we bowed back to him. Hans's bow, I 
may explain, was of the most peculiar nature, more like 
a skulpat, as the Boers call a land-tortoise, drawing its 
wrinkled head into its shell and putting it out again 
than anything else. Then Harut remarked in his pecu- 
liar English, which I suppose the White Kendah took 
for some tongue known only to magicians : 

"So you get here, eh? Why you get here, how 
the devil you get here, eh ? " 

"We got here because you asked us to do so if we 
could," I answered, "and we thought it rude not to 
accept your invitation. For the rest, we came through 
a cave where you kept a tame snake, an ugly-looking 
reptile but very harmless to those who know how to 
deal with snakes and are not afraid of them as poor 
Bena was. If you can spare the skin I should like to 
have it to make myself a robe." 

Harut looked at me with evident respect, muttering : 

"Oh, Macumazana, you what you English call cool, 
quite cool ! Is that all ? " 

"No," I answered. "Although you did not happen 
to notice us, we have been present at your church 
service, and heard and seen everything. For instance, 
we saw the wife of the lord here whom you stole away 
in Egypt, her that, being a liar, Harut, you swore you 
never stole. Also we heard her words after you had 
made her drunk with your tobacco smoke." 

Now for once in his life Harut was, in sporting 
parlance, knocked out. He looked at us, then turning 
quite pale, lifted his eyes to heaven and rocked upon 
his feet as though he were about to fall. 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 273 

"How you do it? How you do it, eh?" he queried 
in a weak voice. 

"Never you mind how we did it, my friend," I 
answered loftily. "What we want to know is when 
you are going to hand over that lady to her husband ? " 

"Not possible," he answered, recovering some of his 
tone. "First we kill you, first we kill her, she Nurse of 
the Child. While Child there, she stop there till she die." 

"See here," broke in Ragnall. "Either you give 
me my wife or someone else will die. You will die, 
Harut. I am a stronger man than you are, and unless 
you promise to give me my wife I will kill you now 
with this stick and my hands. Do not move or call 
out if you want to live." 

"Lord," answered the old man with some dignity, 
"I know you can kill me, and if you kill me, I think 
I say thank you who no wish to live in so much trouble. 
But what good that, since in one minute then you die 
too, all of you, and lady she stop here till Black Kendah 
king take her to wife or she too die of herself ? " 

"Let us talk," I broke in, treading warningly upon 
RagnalPs foot. "We have heard your Oracle and we 
know that you believe its words. It said that we alone 
can help you to conquer the Black Kendah. If you will 
not promise what we ask, we will not help you. We 
will burn our powder and melt our lead, so that the 
guns we have cannot speak with Jana and with Simba, 
and after that we will do other things that I need not 
tell you. But if you promise what we ask, then we 
will fight for you against Jana and Simba and teach 
your men to use the fifty rifles which we have here with 
us, and by our help you shall conquer. Do you 
understand ? " 

He nodded and stroking his long beard, asked : 

"What you want us promise, eh?" 

"We want you to promise that after Jana is dead 

274 The Ivory Child 

and the Black Kendah are driven away, you will give 
up to us unharmed that lady whom you have stolen. 
Also that you will bring her and us safely out of your 
country by the roads you know, and meanwhile that 
you will let this lord see his wife." 

"Not last, no," replied Harut, "that not possible. 
That bring us all to grave. Also no good, 'cause her 
mind empty. For rest, you come to other place, sit 
down and eat while I talk with priests. Be afraid 
nothing; you quite safe." 

"Why should we be afraid? It is you who should 
be afraid, you who stole the lady and brought Bena to 
his death. Do you not remember the words of your 
own Oracle, Harut?" 

"Yes, I know words, but how you know them that I 
not know," he replied. 

Then he issued some orders, as a result of which a 
guard formed itself about us and conducted us through 
the crowd and along the passage to the second court of 
the temple, which was now empty. Here the guard 
left us but remained at the mouth of the passage, keep- 
ing watch. Presently women brought us food and 
drink, of which Hans and I partook heartily though 
Ragnall, who was so near to his lost wife and yet so 
far away, could eat but little. Mingled joy because 
after these months of arduous search he found her yet 
alive, and fear lest she should again be taken from him 
for ever, deprived him of all appetite. 

While we ate, priests to the number of about a dozen, 
who I suppose had been summoned by Harut, were 
admitted by the guard and, gathering out of earshot of 
us between the altar and the sanctuary, entered on an 
earnest discussion with him. Watching their faces I 
could see that there was a strong difference of opinion 
between them, about half taking one view on the matter 
of which they disputed, and half another. At length 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 275 

Hank made some proposition to which they all agreed. 
Then the door of the sanctuary was opened with a 
strange sort of key which one of the priests produced, 
showing a dark interior in which gleamed a white 
object, I suppose the statue of the Child. Harut and 
two others entered, the door being closed behind them. 

About five minutes later they appeared again and a 
priest, not Harut, made some communication to the 
others, who listened earnestly and after renewed con- 
sultation signified assent by holding up the right hand. 
Now one of the priests walked to where we were and, 
bowing, begged us to advance to the altar. This we 
did, and were stood in a line in front of it, Hans being 
set in the middle place, while the priests ranged them- 
selves on either side. Next Harut, having once more 
opened the door of the sanctuary, took his stand a little 
to the right of it and addressed us, not in English but 
in his own language, pausing at the end of each sentence 
that I might translate to Ragnall. 

"Lords Macumazana and Igeza, and yellow man 
who is named Light-in-Darkness," he said, "we, the 
head priests of the Child, speaking on behalf of the 
White Kendah people with full authority so to do, have 
taken counsel together and of the wisdom of the Child 
as to the demands which you make of us. Those de- 
mands are : First, that after you have killed Jana and 
defeated the Black Kendah we should give over to you 
the white lady who was born in a far land to fill the 
office of Guardian of the Child, as is shown by the 
mark of the new moon upon her breast, but who, 
because for the second time we could not take her, 
became the wife of you, the Lord Igeza. Secondly, 
that we should conduct you and her safely out of our 
land to some place whence you can return to your own 
country. Both of these things we will do, because we 
know from of old that if once Jana is dead we shall 

276 The Ivory Child 

have no cause to fear the Black Kendah any more, 
since we believe that then they will leave their home and 
go elsewhere, and therefore that we shall no longer need 
an Oracle to declare to us in what way Heaven will 
protect us from Jana and from them. Or if another 
Oracle should become necessary to us, doubtless in due 
season she will be found. Also we admit that we stole 
away this lady because we must, although she was the 
wife of one of you. But if we swear this, you on your 
part must also swear that you will stay with us till the 
end of the war, making our cause your cause and, if 
need be, giving your lives for us in battle. You must 
swear further that none of you will attempt to see or to 
take hence that lady who is named Guardian of the 
Child until we hand her over to you unharmed. If you 
will not swear these things, then since no blood may 
be shed in this holy place, here we will ring you round 
until you die of hunger and of thirst, or if you escape 
from this temple, then we will fall upon you and put 
you to death and fight our own battle with Jana as best 
we may." 

" And if we make these promises how are we to know 
that you will keep yours? " I interrupted. 

" Because the oath that we shall give you will be the 
oath of the Child that may not be broken." 

"Then give it," I said, for although I did not alto- 
gether like the security, obviously it was the best to be 

So very solemnly they laid their right hands upon 
the altar and " in the presence of the Child and the name 
of the Child and of all the White Kendah people " re- 
peated after Harut a most solemn oath of which I have 
already given the substance. It called down on their 
heads a very dreadful doom in this world and the next, 
should it be broken either in the spirit or the letter; 
the said oath, however, to be only binding if we, on 

The Sanctuary and the Oath 277 

our part, swore to observe their terms and kept our 
engagement also in the spirit and the letter. 

Then they asked us to fulfil our share of the pact 
and very considerately drew out of hearing while we 
discussed the matter ; Harut, the only one of them who 
understood a word of English, retiring behind the 
sanctuary. At first I had difficulties with Ragnall, who 
was most unwilling to bind himself in any way. In 
the end, on my pointing out that nothing less than our 
lives were involved and probably that of his wife as 
well, also that no other course was open to us, he gave 
way, to my great relief. 

Hans announced himself ready to swear anything, 
adding blandly that words mattered nothing, as after- 
wards we could do whatever seemed best in our own 
interests, whereon I read him a short moral lecture on 
the heinousness of perjury, which did not seem to im- 
press him very much. 

This matter settled, we called back the priests and 
informed them of our decision. Harut demanded that 
we should affirm it "by the Child," which we declined 
to do, saying that it was our custom to swear only in 
the name of our own God. Being a liberal-minded 
man who had travelled, Harut gave way on the point. 
So I swore first to the effect that I would fight for the 
White Kendah to the finish in consideration of the 
promises that they had made to us. I added that I 
would not attempt either to see or to interfere with the 
lady here known as the Guardian of the Child until the 
war was over or even to bring our existence to her know- 
ledge, ending up, "so help me God," as I had done 
several times when giving evidence in a court of law. 

Next Ragnall with a great effort repeated my oath 
in English, Harut listening carefully to every word and 
once or twice asking me to explain the exact meaning 
of some of them. 

278 The Ivory Child 

Lastly Hans, who seemed very bored with the whole 
affair, swore, also repeating the words after me * nd 
finishing on his own account with "so help me the 
reverend Predikant, the Baas's father," a form that he 
utterly declined to vary althougH it involved more ex- 
planations. When pressed, indeed, he showed con- 
siderable ingenuity by pointing out to the priests that 
to his mind my poor father stood in exactly the same 
relation to the Power above us as their Oracle did to the 
Child. He offered generously, however, to throw in 
the spirits of his grandfather and grandmother and 
some extraordinary divinity they worshipped, I think it 
was a hare, as an additional guarantee of good faith. 
This proposal the priests accepted gravely, whereon 
Hans whispered into my ear in Dutch : 

"Those fools do not remember that when pressed by 
dogs the hare often doubles on its own spoor, and that 
your reverend father will be very pleased if I can play 
them the same trick with the white lady that they played 
with the Lord Igeza." 

I only looked at him in reply, since the morality of 
Hans was past argument. It might perhaps be summed 
up in one sentence : To get the better of his neighbour 
in his master's service, honestly if possible; if not, by 
any means that came to his hand down to that of 
murder. At the bottom of his dark and mysterious 
heart Hans worshipped only one god, named Love, not 
of woman or child, but of my humble self. His prin- 
ciples were those of a rather sly but very high-class and 
exclusive dog, neither better nor worse. Still, when all 
is said and done, there are lower creatures in the world 
than high-class dogs. At least so the masters whom 
they adore are apt to think, especially if their watchful- 
ness and courage have often saved them from death or 



THE ceremonies were over and the priests, with the 
exception of Harut and two who remained to attend 
upon him, vanished, probably to inform the male and 
female hierophants of their result, and through these 
the whole people of the White Kendah. Old Harut 
stared at us for a little while, then said in English, 
which he always liked to talk when Ragnall was 
present, perhaps for the sake of practice : 

"What you like do now, eh? P'r'aps wish fly back 
to Town of Child, for suppose this how you come. If 
so, please take me with you, because that save long 

"Oh I no," I answered. "We walked here through 
that hole where lived the Father of Snakes who died of 
fear when he saw us, and just mixed with the rest of you 
in the court of the temple." 

"Good lie," said Harut admiringly, "very first-class 
lie ! Wonder how you kill great snake, which we all 
think never die, for he live there hundred, hundred 
years; our people find him there when first they come 
to this country, and make him kind of god. Well, he 
nasty beast and best dead. I say, you like see Child? 
If so, come, for you our brothers now, only please take 
off hat and not speak." 

I intimated that we should "like see Child," and led 
by Harut we entered the little sanctuary which was 
barely large enough to hold all of us. In a niche of 
the end wall stood the sacred effigy which Ragnall and 


280 The Ivory Child 

I examined with a kind of reverent interest. It proved 
to be the statue of an infant about two feet high, cut, I 
imagine, from the base of a single but very large 
elephant's tusk, so ancient that the yellowish ivory had 
become rotten and was covered with a multitude of tiny 
fissures. Indeed, from its appearance I made up my 
mind that several thousands of years must have passed 
since the beast died from which this ivory was taken, 
especially as it had, I presume, always been carefully 
preserved under cover. 

The workmanship of the object was excellent, that 
of a fine artist who, I should think, had taken some 
living infant for his model, perhaps a child of the 
Pharaoh of the day. Here I may say at once that there 
could be no doubt of its Egyptian origin, since on one 
side of the head was a single lock of hair, while the 
fourth finger of the right hand was held before the lips 
as though to enjoin silence. Both of these peculiarities, 
it will be remembered, are characteristic of the infant 
Horus, the child of Osiris and Isis, as portrayed in 
bronzes and temple carvings. So at least Ragnall, who 
recently had studied many such effigies in Egypt, in- 
formed me later. There was nothing else in the place 
except an ancient, string-seated chair of ebony, adorned 
with inlaid ivory patterns ; an effigy of a snake in porce- 
lain, showing that serpent worship was in some way 
mixed up with their religion ; and two rolls of papyrus, 
at least that is what they looked like, which were laid 
in the niche with the statue. These rolls, to my disap- 
pointment, Harut refused to allow us to examine or even 
to touch. 

After we had left the sanctuary I asked Harut when 
this figure was brought to their land. He replied that 
it came when they came, at what date he could not tell 
us as it was so long ago, and that with it came the 
worship and the ceremonies of their religion. 

The Embassy 281 

In answer to further questions he added that this 
figure, which seemed to be of ivory, contained the spirits 
which ruled the sun and the moon, and through them 
the world. This, said Ragnall, was just a piece of 
Egyptian theology, preserved down to our own times in 
a remote corner of Africa, doubtless by descendants of 
dwellers on the Nile who had been driven thence in 
some national catastrophe, and brought away with them 
their faith and one of the effigies of their gods. Per- 
haps they fled at the time of the Persian invasion by 

After we had emerged from this deeply interesting 
shrine, which was locked behind us, Harut led us, not 
through the passage connecting it with the stone house 
that we knew was occupied by Ragnall's wife in her 
capacity as Guardian of the Child, or a latter-day per- 
sonification of Isis, Lady of the Moon, at which house 
he cast many longing glances, but back through the 
two courts and the pylon to the gateway of the temple. 
Here on the road by which we had entered the place, 
a fact which we did not mention to him, he paused and 
addressed us. 

"Lords," he said, "now you and Ihe People of the 
White Kendah are one ; your ends are their ends, your 
fate is their fate, their secrets are your secrets. You, 
Lord Igeza, work for a reward, namely the person of 
that lady whom we took from you on the Nile." 

" How did you do that ? " interrupted Ragnall when 
I had interpreted. 

"Lord, we watched you. We knew when you came 
to Egypt; we followed you in Egypt, whither we had 
journeyed on our road to England once more to seek 
our Oracle, till the day of our opportunity dawned. 
Then at night we called her and she obeyed the call, 
as she must do whose mind we have taken away ask 
me not how and brought her to dwell with us, she who 

282 The Ivory Child 

is marked from her birth with the holy sign and wears 
upon her breast certain charmed stones and a symbol 
that for thousands of years have adorned the body of 
the Child and those of its Oracles. Do you remember a 
company of Arabs whom you saw riding on the banks 
of the Great River on the day before the night when 
she was lost to you ? We were with that company and 
on our camels we bore her thence, happy and unharmed 
to this our land, as I trust, when all is done, we shall 
bear her back again and you with her." 

"I trust so also, for you have wrought me a great 
wrong," said Ragnall briefly, "perhaps a greater wrong 
than I know at present, for how came it that my boy 
was killed by an elephant ? " 

"Ask that question of Jana and not of me," Harut 
answered darkly. Then he went on : "You also, Lord 
Macumazana, work for a reward, the countless store of 
ivory which your eyes have beheld lying in the burial 
place of elephants beyond the Tava River. When you 
have slain Jana who watches the store, and defeated the 
Black Kendah who serve him, it is yours and we will 
give you camels to bear it, or some of it, for all cannot 
be carried, to the sea where it can be taken away in 
ships. As for the yellow man, I think that he seeks 
no reward who soon will inherit all things." 

"The old witch-doctor means that I am going to 
die," remarked Hans expectorating reflectively. "Well, 
Baas, I am quite ready, if only Jana and certain others 
die first. Indeed I grow too old to fight and travel as 
I used to do, and therefore shall be glad to pass to some 
land where I become young again." 

"Stuff and rubbish ! " I exclaimed, then turned and 
listened to Harut who, not understanding our Dutch 
conversation, was speaking once more. 

"Lords," he said, "these paths which run east and 
west are the real approach to the mountain top and the 

The Embassy 283 

temple, not that which, as I suppose, led you through 
the cave of the old serpent. The road to the west, which 
wanders round the base of the hill to a pass in those 
distant mountains and thence across the deserts to the 
north, is so easy to stop that by it we need fear no attack. 
With this eastern road the case is, however, different, as 
I shall now show you, if you will ride with me." 

Then he gave some orders to two attendant priests 
who departed at a run and presently reappeared at the 
head of a small train of camels which had been hidden, 
I know not where. We mounted and, following the 
road across a flat piece of ground, found that not more 
than half a mile away was another precipitous ridge of 
rock which had presumably once formed the lip of an 
outer crater. This ridge, however, was broken away 
for a width of two or three hundred yards, perhaps by 
some outrush of lava, the road running through the 
centre of the gap on which schanzes had been built here 
and there for purposes of defence. Looking at these I 
saw that they were very old and inefficient and asked 
when they had been erected. Harut replied about a 
century before when the last war took place with the 
Black Kendah, who had been finally driven off at this 
spot, for then the White Kendah were much more 
numerous than at present. 

"So Simba knows this road," I said. 

"Yes, Lord, and Jana knows it also, for he fought 
in that war and still at times visits us here and kills any 
whom he may meet. Only to the temple he has never 
dared to come." 

Now I wondered whether we had really seen Jana 
in the forest on the previous night, but coming to the 
conclusion that it was useless to investigate the matter, 
made no inquiries, especially as these would have re- 
vealed to Harut the route by which we approached the 
temple. Only I pointed out to him that proper defences 

284 The Ivory Child 

should be put up here without delay, that is if they 
meant to make a stronghold of the mountain. 

"We do, Lord," he answered, "since we are not 
strong enough to attack the Black Kendah in their own 
country or to meet them in pitched battle on the plain. 
Here and in no other place must be fought the last 
fight between Jana and the Child. Therefore it will be 
your task to build walls cunningly, so that when they 
come we may defeat Jana and the hosts of the Black 

"Do you mean that this elephant will accompany 
Simba and his soldiers, Harut ? " 

" Without doubt, Lord, since he has always done so 
from the beginning. Jana is tame to the king and 
certain priests of the Black Kendah, whose forefathers 
have fed him for generations, and will obey their orders. 
Also he can think for himself, being an evil spirit and 

"His left eye and the tip of his trunk are not in- 
vulnerable," I remarked, "though from what I saw of 
him I should say there is no doubt about his being able 
to think for himself. Well, I am glad the brute is 
coming as I have an account to settle with him." 

"As he, Lord, who does not forget, has an account 
to settle with you and your servant, Light-in-Darkness," 
commented Harut in an unpleasant and suggestive tone. 

Then after we had taken a few measurements 
and Ragnall, who understood such matters, had 
drawn a rough sketch of the place in his pocket- 
book to serve as data for our proposed scheme of 
fortifications, we pursued our journey back to the 
town where we had left all our stores and there were 
many things to be arranged. It proved to be quite 
a long ride, down the eastern slope of the mountain 
which was easy to negotiate, although like the rest 
of this strange hill it was covered with dense cedar 

The Embassy 285 

forests that also seemed to me to have defensive possi- 
bilities. Reaching its foot at length we were obliged 
to make a detour by certain winding paths to avoid 
ground that was too rough for the camels, so that in 
the end we did not come to our own house in the Town 
of the Child till about midday. 

Glad enough were we to reach it, since all three of 
us were quite tired out with our terrible night journey 
and the anxious emotions that we had undergone. In- 
deed, after we had eaten we lay down and I rejoiced 
to see that, notwithstanding the state of mental excite- 
ment into which the discovery of his wife had plunged 
him, Ragnall was the first of us to fall asleep. 

About five o'clock we were awakened by a messenger 
from Harut, who requested our attendance on important 
business at a kind of meeting-house which stood at a 
little distance on an open place where the White Kendah 
bartered produce. Here we found Harut and about 
twenty of the headmen seated in the shade of a thatched 
roof, while behind them, at a respectful distance, stood 
quite a hundred of the White Kendah. Most of these, 
however, were women and children, for as I have said 
the greater part of the male population was absent from 
the town because of the commencement of the harvest. 

We were conducted to chairs, or rather stools of 
honour, and when we two had seated ourselves, Hans 
taking his stand behind us, Harut rose and informed 
us that an embassy had arrived from the Black Kendah 
which was about to be admitted. 

Presently they came, five of them, great, truculent- 
looking fellows of a surprising blackness, unarmed, for 
they had not been allowed to bring their weapons into 
the town, but adorned with the usual silver chains 
across their breasts to show their rank, and other savage 
finery. In the man who was their leader I recognised 
one of those messengers who had accosted us when 

286 The Ivory Child 

firs: we entered their territory on our way from the 
south, before that fight in which I was taken prisoner. 
Stepping forward and addressing himself to Harut, he 
said : 

"A while ago, O Prophet of the Child, I, the mes- 
senger of the god Jana, speaking through the mouth of 
Simba the King, gave to you and your brother Marut 
a certain warning to which you did not listen. Now 
Jana has Marut, and again I come to warn you, Harut." 

"If I remember right," interrupted Harut blandly, 
"I think that on that occasion two of you delivered the 
message and that the Child marked one of you upon the 
brow. If Jana has my brother, say, where is yours ? " 

"We warned you," went on the messenger, "and 
you cursed us in the name of the Child." 

"Yes," interrupted Harut again, "we cursed you 
with three curses. The first was the curse of Heaven 
by storm or drought, which has fallen upon you. The 
second was the curse of famine, which is falling upon 
you ; and the third was the curse of war, which is yet to 
fall on you." 

"It is of war that we come to speak," replied the 
messenger, diplomatically avoiding the other two topics 
which perhaps he found it awkward to discuss. 

"That is foolish of you," replied the bland Harut, 
"seeing that the other day you matched yourselves 
against us with but small success. Many of you were 
killed but only a very few of us, and the white lord 
whom you took captive escaped out of your hands and 
from the tusks of Jana who, I think, now lacks an eye. 
If he is a god, how comes it that he lacks an eye and 
could not kill an unarmed white man ? " 

"Let Jana answer for himself, as he will do ere 
long, O HarOt. Meanwhile these are the words of Jana 
spoken through the mouth of Simba the King : The 
Child has destroyed my harvest and therefore I demand 

The Embassy 287 

this of the people of the Child that they give me three- 
fourths of their harvest, reaping the same and deliver- 
ing it on the south bank of the River Tava. That they 
give me the two white lords to be sacrificed to me. That 
they give the white lady who is Guardian of the Child 
to be a wife of Simba the King, and with her a hundred 
virgins of your people. That the image of the Child 
be brought to the banks of the River Tava, there to 
make obeisance to the god Jana in the presence of his 
priests and Simba the King. These are the demands 
of Jana spoken through the mouth of Simba the King." 

Watching, I saw a thrill of horror shake the forms 
of Harut and of all those with him as the full meaning 
of these, to them most impious requests sank into their 
minds. But he only asked very quietly : 

"And if we refuse the demands, what then?" 

"Then," shouted the messenger insolently, "then 
Jana declares war upon you, the last war of all, war 
till every one of your men be dead and the Child you 
worship is burnt to grey ashes with fire. War till your 
women are taken as slaves and the corn which you 
refuse is stored in our grain pits and your land is a 
waste and your name forgotten. Already the hosts of 
Jana are gathered and the trumpet of Jana calls them 
to the fight. To-morrow or the next day they advance 
upon you, and ere the moon is full not one of you will 
be left to look upon her." 

Harut rose, and walking from under the shed, turned 
his back upon the envoys and stared at the distant line 
of great mountains which stood out far away against 
the sky. Out of curiosity I followed him and observed 
that these mountains were no longer visible. Where 
they had been was nothing but a line of black and 
heavy cloud. After looking for a while he returned 
and addressing the envoys, said quite casually : 

"If you will be advised by me, friends, you will 

288 The Ivory Child 

ride hard for the river. There is such rain upon the 
mountains as I have never seen before, and you will be 
fortunate if you cross it before the flood comes down, 
the greatest flood that has happened in our day." 

This intelligence seemed to disturb the messengers, 
for they too stepped out of the shed and stared at the 
mountains, muttering to each other something that I 
could not understand. Then they returned and with a 
fine appearance of indifference demanded an immediate 
answer to their challenge. 

"Can you not guess it?" answered Harut. Then 
changing his tone he drew himself to his full height 
and thundered out at them : " Get you back to your 
evil spirit of a god that hides in the shape of a beast 
of the forest and to his slave who calls himself a king, 
and say to them : ' Thus speaks the Child to his re- 
bellious servants, the Black Kendah dogs : Swim my 
river when you can, which will not be yet, and come up 
against me when you will ; for whenever you come I 
shall be ready for you. You are already dead, O Jana. 
You are already dead, O Simba the slave. You are 
scattered and lost, O dogs of the Black Kendah, and the 
home of such of you as remain shall be far away in a 
barren land, where you must dig deep for water and 
live upon the wild game because there little corn will 
grow.' Now begone, and swiftly, lest you stop here 
for ever." 

So they turned and went, leaving me full of admira- 
tion at the histrionic powers of Harut. 

I must add, however, that being without doubt a 
keen observer of the weather conditions of the neigh- 
bourhood, he was quite right about the rain upon the 
mountains, which by the way never extended to the 
territory of the People of the Child. As we heard after- 
wards, the flood came down just as the envoys reached 
the river; indeed, one of them was drowned in attempt- 

The Embassy 289 

ing its crossing, and for fourteen days after this it 
remained impassable to an army. 

That very evening we began our preparations to 
meet an attack which was now inevitable. Putting 
aside the supposed rival powers of the tribal divinities 
worshipped under the names of the Child and Jana, 
which, while they added a kind of Homeric interest to 
the contest, could, we felt, scarcely affect an issue that 
must be decided with cold steel and other mortal 
weapons, the position of the White Kendah was serious 
indeed. As I think I have said, in all they did not 
number more than about two thousand men between 
the ages of twenty and fifty-five, or, including lads 
between fourteen and twenty and old men still able- 
bodied between fifty-five and seventy, say two thousand 
seven hundred capable of some sort of martial service. 
To these might be added something under two thousand 
women, since among this dwindling folk, oddly enough, 
from causes that I never ascertained, the males out- 
numbered the females, which accounted for their mar- 
riage customs that were, by comparison with those of 
most African peoples, monogamous. At any rate only 
the rich among them had more than one wife, while the 
poor or otherwise ineligible often had none at all, since 
intermarriage with other races and above all with the 
Black Kendah dwelling beyond the river was so 
strictly taboo that it was punishable with death or 

Against this little band the Black Kendah could 
bring up twenty thousand men, besides boys and aged 
persons who with the women would probably be left to 
defend their own country, that is, not less than ten to 
one. Moreover, all of these enemies would be fighting 
with the courage of despair, since quite three-fourths 
of their crops with many of their cattle and sheep had 

The Ivory Child 

been destroyed by the terrific hail-burst that I have 
described. Therefore, since no other corn was available 
in the surrounding land, where they dwelt alone en- 
circled by deserts, either they must capture that of the 
White Kendah, or suffer terribly from starvation until 
a year later when another harvest ripened. 

The only points I could see in favour of the People 
of the Child were that they would fight on the vantage 
ground of their mountain stronghold, a formidable 
position if properly defended. Also they would have 
the benefit of the skill and knowledge of Ragnall 
and myself. Lastly, the enemy must face our rifles. 
Neither the White nor the Black Kendah, I should 
say, possessed any guns, except a few antiquated flint- 
lock weapons that the former had captured from some 
nomadic tribe and kept as curiosities. Why this was 
the case I do not know, since undoubtedly at times the 
White Kendah traded in camels and corn with Arabs 
who wandered as far as the Sudan or Egypt, nomadic 
tribes to whom even then firearms were known, although 
perhaps rarely used by them. But so it was, possibly 
because of some old law or prejudice which forbade 
their introduction into the country, or mayhap of the 
difficulty of procuring powder and lead, or for the reason 
that they had none to teach them the use of such new- 
fangled weapons. 

Now it will be remembered that, on the chance of 
their proving useful, Ragnall, in addition to our own 
sporting arms, had brought with him to Africa fifty 
Snider rifles with an ample supply of ammunition, 
the same that I had trouble in passing through the 
Customs at Durban, all of which had arrived safely 
at the Town of the Child. Clearly our first duty was 
to make the best possible use of this invaluable store. 
To that end I asked Harut to select seventy-five of 
the boldest and most intelligent young men among his 

The Embassy 291 

people, and to hand them over to me and Hans for in- 
struction in musketry. We had only fifty rifles but I 
drilled seventy-five men, or fifty per cent, more, that 
some might be ready to replace any who fell. 

From dawn to dark each day Hans and I worked at 
trying to convert these Kendah into sharpshooters. It 
was no easy task with men, however willing, who till 
then had never held a gun, especially as I must be very 
sparing of the ammunition necessary to practice, of 
which of course our supply was limited. Still we taught 
them how to take cover, how to fire and to cease from 
firing at the word of command, also to hold the rifles 
low and waste no shot. To make marksmen of them 
was more than I could hope to do under the circum- 

With the exception of these men nearly the entire 
male population were working day and night to get in 
the harvest. This proved a very difficult business, both 
because some of the crops were scarcely fit and because 
all the grain had to be carried on camels to be stored in 
and at the back of the second court of the temple, the 
only place where it was likely to be safe. Indeed in the 
end a great deal was left unreaped. Then the herds of 
cattle and breeding camels which grazed on the farther 
side of the Holy Mount must be brought into places of 
safety, glens in the forest on its slope, and forage 
stacked to feed them. Also it was necessary to pro- 
vide scouts to keep watch along the banks of the river. 

Lastly, the fortifications in the mountain pass re- 
quired unceasing labour and attention. This was the 
task of Ragnall, who fortunately in his youth, before 
he succeeded unexpectedly to the title, was for some 
years an officer in the Royal Engineers and therefore 
thoroughly understood that business. Indeed he under- 
stood it rather too well, since the result of his somewhat 
complicated and scientific scheme of defence was a little 

292 The Ivory Child 

confusing to the simple native mind. However, with 
the assistance of the priests and of all the women and 
children who were not engaged in provisioning the 
Mount, he built wall after wall and redoubt afte" 
redoubt, if that is the right word, to say nothing of 
the shelter trenches he dug and many pitfalls, furnished 
at the bottom with sharp stakes, which he hollowed 
out wherever the soil could be easily moved, to dis- 
comfit a charging enemy. 

Indeed, when I saw the amount of work he had con- 
cluded in ten days which was not until I joined him on 
the mountain, I was quite astonished. 

About this time a dispute arose as to whether we 
should attempt to prevent the Black Kendah from 
crossing the river which was now running down, a plan 
that some of the elders favoured. At last the con- 
troversy was referred to me as head general and I de- 
cided against anything of the sort. It seemed to me 
that our force was too small, and that if I took the rifle- 
men a great deal of ammunition might be expended with 
poor result. Also in the event of any reverse or when 
we were finally driven back, which must happen, there 
might be difficulty about remounting the camels, our 
only means of escape from the horsemen who would 
possibly gallop us down. Moreover the Tava had 
several fords, any one of which might be selected by 
the enemy. So it was arranged that we should make 
our first and last stand upon the Holy Mount. 

On the fourteenth night from new moon our swift 
camel-scouts who were posted in relays between the 
Tava and the Mount reported that the Black Kendah 
were gathered in thousands upon the farther side of the 
river, where they were engaged in celebrating magical 
ceremonies. On the fifteenth night the scouts reported 
that they were crossing the river, about five thousand 
horsemen and fifteen thousand foot soldiers, and that at 

The Embassy 293 

the head of them marched the huge god-elephant, Jana, 
on which rode Simba the King and a lame priest 
(evidently my friend whose foot had been injured by 
the pistol), who acted as a mahout. This part of the 
story I confess I did not believe, since it seemed to me 
impossible that anyone could ride upon that mad rogue, 
Jana. Yet, as subsequent events showed, it was in fact 
true. I suppose that in certain hands the beast became 
tame. Or perhaps it was drugged. 

Two nights later, for the Black Kendah advanced 
but slowly, spreading themselves over the country in 
order to collect such crops as had not been gathered 
through lack of time or because they were still unripe, 
we saw flames and smoke rising from the Town of the 
Child beneath us, which they had fired. Now we knew 
that the time of trial had come and until near midnight 
men, women and children worked feverishly finishing or 
trying to finish the fortifications and making every 
preparation in our power. 

Our position was that we held a very strong post, 
that is, strong against an enemy unprovided with big 
guns or even firearms, which, as all other possible ap- 
proaches had been blocked, was only assailable by direct 
frontal attack from the east. In the pass we had three 
main lines of defence, one arranged behind the other and 
separated by distances of a few hundred yards. Our 
last refuge was furnished by the walls of the temple 
itself, in the rear of which were camped the whole White 
Kendah tribe, save a few hundreds who were employed 
in watching the herds of camels and stock in almost in- 
accessible positions on the northern slopes of the Mount. 

There were perhaps five thousand people of both 
sexes and every age gathered in this camp, which was 
so well provided with food and water that it could have 
stood a siege of several months. If, however, our de- 
fences should be carried there was no possibility of 

294 The Ivory Child 

escape, since we learned from our scouts that the Black 
Kendah, who by tradition and through spies were well 
acquainted with every feature of the country, had de- 
tached a party of several thousand men to watch the 
western road and the slopes of the mountain, in case we 
should try to break out by that route. The only one 
remaining, that which ran through the cave of the 
serpent, we had taken the precaution of blocking up 
with great stones, lest through it our flank should be 

In short, we were rats in a trap and where we were 
there we must either conquer or die unless indeed we 
chose to surrender, which for most of us would mean a 
fate worse than death. 



I HAD made my last round of the little corps that I 
facetiously named "The Sharpshooters," though to tell 
truth at shooting they were anything but sharp, and 
seen that each man was in his place behind a wall with 
a reserve man squatted at the rear of every pair of them, 
waiting to take his rifle if either of these should fall. 
Also I had made sure that all of them had twenty rounds 
of ammunition in their skin pouches. More I would 
not serve out, fearing lest in excitement or in panic they 
might fire away to the last cartridge uselessly, as before 
now even disciplined white troops have been known to 
do. Therefore I had arranged that certain old men of 
standing who could be trusted should wait in a place 
of comparative safety behind the line, carrying all our 
reserve ammunition, which amounted, allowing for what 
had been expended in practice, to nearly sixty rounds 
per rifle. This they were instructed to deliver from 
their wallets to the firing line in small lots when they 
saw that it was necessary and not before. 

It was, I admit, an arrangement apt to miscarry in 
the heat of desperate battle, but I could think of none 
better, since it was absolutely necessary that no shot 
should be wasted. 

After a few words of exhortation and caution to the 
natives who acted as sergeants to the corps, I returned 
to a bough shelter that had been built for us behind a 
rock to get a few hours' sleep, if that were possible 
before the fight began. 


296 The Ivory Child 

Here I found Ragnall, who had just come in from his 
inspection. This was of a much more extensive nature 
than my own, since it involved going round some fur- 
longs of the rough walls and trenches that he had pre- 
pared with so much thought and care, and seeing that 
the various companies of the White Kendah were ready 
to play their part in the defence of them. 

He was tired and rather excited, too much so to sleep 
at once. So we talked a little while, first about the 
prospects of the morrow's battle, as to which we were, 
to say the least of it, dubious, and afterwards of other 
things. I asked him if during his stay in this place, 
while I was below at the town or later, he had heard 
or seen anything of his wife. 

"Nothing," he answered. "These priests never 
speak of her, and if they did Harut is the only one of 
them that I can really understand. Moreover, I have 
kept my word strictly and, even when I had occasion 
to see to the blocking of the western road, made a cir- 
cuit on the mountain top in order to avoid the neigh- 
bourhood of that house where I suppose she lives. Oh ! 
Quatermain, my friend, my case is a hard one, as you 
would think if the woman you loved with your whole 
heart were shut up within a few hundred yards of you 
and no communication with her possible after all this 
time of separation and agony. What makes it worse is, 
as I gathered from what Harut said the other day, that 
she is still out of her mind." 

"That has some consolations," I replied, "since the 
mindless do not suffer. But if such is the case, how 
do you account for what you and poor Savage saw that 
night in the Town of the Child ? It was not altogether 
a phantasy, for the dress you described was the same 
we saw her wearing at the Feast of the First-fruits." 

"I don't know what to make of it, Quatermain, 
except that many strange things happen in the world 

Allan Quatermain Misses 297 

which we mock at as insults to our limited intelligence 
because we cannot understand them." (Very soon I 
was to have another proof of this remark.) " But what 
are you driving at? You are keeping something back." 

"Only this, Ragnall. If your wife were utterly mad 
I cannot conceive how it came about that she searched 
you out and spoke to you even in a vision for the thing 
was not an individual dream since both you and Savage 
saw her. Nor did she actually visit you in the flesh, 
as the door never opened and the spider's web across it 
was not broken. So it comes to this : either some part 
of her is not mad but can still exercise sufficient will to 
project itself upon your senses, or she is dead and her 
disembodied spirit did this thing. Now we know that 
she is not dead, for we have seen her and Harut has 
confessed as much. Therefore I maintain that, whatever 
may be her temporary state, she must still be fundament- 
ally of a reasonable mind, as she is of a natural body. 
For instance, she may only be hypnotised, in which 
case the spell will break one day." 

"Thank you for that thought, old fellow. It never 
occurred to me and it gives me new hope. Now listen ! 
If I should come to grief in this business, which is very 
likely, and you should survive, you will do your best 
to get her home ; will you not ? Here is a codicil to my 
will which I drew up after that night of the dream, duly 
witnessed by Savage and Hans. It leaves to you what- 
ever sums may be necessary in this connection and 
something over for yourself. Take it, it is best in your 
keeping, especially as if you should be killed it has no 

"Of course I will do my best," I answered as I put 
away the paper in my pocket. "And now don't let 
us take any more thought of being killed, which may 
prevent us from getting the sleep we want. I don't 
mean to be killed if I can help it. I mean to give those 

298 The Ivory Child 

beggars, the Black Kendah, such a doing as they never 
had before, and then start for the coast with you and 
Lady Ragnall, as, God willing, we shall do. Good 

After this I slept like a top for some hours, as I 
believe Ragnall did also. When I awoke, which hap- 
pened suddenly and completely, the first thing that I 
saw was Hans seated at the entrance to my little shelter 
smoking his corn-cob pipe, and nursing the single- 
barrelled rifle, Intombi, on his knee. I asked him what 
the time was, to which he replied that it lacked two 
hours to dawn. Then I asked him why he had not 
been sleeping. He replied that he had been asleep 
and dreamed a dream. Idly enough I inquired what 
dream, to which he replied : 

"Rather a strange one, Baas, for a man who is about 
to go into battle. I dreamed that I was in a large 
place that was full of quiet. It was light there, but I 
could not see any sun or moon, and the air was very 
soft and tasted like food and drink, so much so, Baas, 
that if anyone had offered me a cup quite full of the 
best ' Cape smoke ' I should have told him to take it 
away. Then, Baas, suddenly I saw your reverend father, 
the Predikant, standing beside me and looking just as 
he used to look, only younger and stronger and very 
happy, and so of course knew at once that I was dead 
and in hell. Only I wondered where the fire that does 
not go out might be, for I could not see it. Presently 
your reverend father said to me : ' Good day, Hans. So 
you have come here at last. Now tell me, how has it 
gone with my son, the Baas Allan ? Have you looked 
after him as I told you to do ? ' 

" I answered : ' I have looked after him as well as I 
could, O reverend sir. Little enough have I done ; still, 
not once or twice or three times only have I offered 
up my life for him as was my duty, and yet we both 

Allan Quatermain Misses 299 

have lived.' And that I might be sure he heard the 
best of me, as was but natural, I told him the times, 
Baas, making a big story out of small things, although 
all the while I could see that he knew exactly just where 
I began to lie and just where I stopped from lying. 
Still he did not scold me, Baas; indeed, when I had 
finished, he said : 

'"Well done, O good and faithful servant,' words 
that I think I have heard him use before when he was 
alive, Baas, and used to preach to us for such a long 
time on Sunday afternoons. Then he asked : ' And 
how goes it with Baas Allan, my son, now, Hans ? ' to 
which I replied : 

" ' The Baas Allan is going to fight a very great 
battle in which he may well fall, and if I could feel sorry 
here, which I can't, I should weep, O reverend sir, 
because I have died before that battle began and there- 
fore cannot stand at his side in the battle and be killed 
for him as a servant should for his master ! ' 

"' You will stand at his side in the battle,' said your 
reverend father, ' and those things which you desire 
you will do, as it is fitting that you should. And after- 
wards, Hans, you will make report to me of how the 
battle went and of what honour my son has won therein. 
Moreover, know this, Hans, that though while you live 
in the world you seem to see many other things, they are 
but dreams, since in all the world there is but one real 
thing, and its name is Love, which if it be but strong 
enough, the stars themselves must obey, for it is the 
king of every one of them, and all who dwell in them 
worship it day and night under many names for ever 
and for ever, Amen.' 

"What he meant by that I am sure I don't know, 
Baas, seeing that I have never thought much of women, 
at least not for many years since my last old vrouw 
went and drank herself to death after lying in her sleep 

300 The Ivory Child 

on the baby which I loved much better than I did her, 

"Well, before I could ask him, or about hell either, 
he was gone like a whiff of smoke from a rifle mouth in 
a strong wind." 

Hans paused, puffed at his pipe, spat upon the 
ground in his usual reflective way and asked : 

"Is the Baas tired of the dream or would he like to 
hear the rest ? " 

"I should like to hear the rest," I said in a low voice, 
for I was strangely moved. 

"Well, Baas, while I was standing in that place 
which was so full of quiet, turning my hat in my hands 
and wondering what work they would set me to there 
among the devils, I looked up. There I saw coming 
towards me two very beautiful women, Baas, who had 
their arms around each other's necks. They were 
dressed in white, with the little hard things that are 
found in shells hanging about them, and bright stones 
in their hair. And as they came, Baas, wherever they 
set a foot flowers sprang up, very pretty flowers, so 
that all their path across the quiet place was marked 
with flowers. Birds too sang as they passed, at least I 
think they were birds though I could not see them." 

"What were they like, Hans?" I whispered. 

"One of them, Baas, the taller, I did not know. But 
the other I knew well enough ; it was she whose name 
is holy, not to be mentioned. Yet I must mention that 
name; it was the Missie Marie herself as last we saw 
her alive many, many years ago, only grown a hundred 
times more beautiful.'** 

Now I groaned, and Hans went on : 

"The two White Ones came up to me, and stood 
looking at me with eyes that were more soft than those 

* See the book called " Marie," by H. Rider Haggard. 

Allan Quatermain Misses 301 

of bucks. Then the Missie Marie said to the other : 
' This is Hans of whom I have so often told you, O 

Here I groaned again, for how did this Hottentot 
know that name, or rather its sweet rendering ? 

"Then she who was called Star asked: 'How goes 
it with one who is the heart of all three of us, O Hans ? ' 
Yes, Baas, those Shining Ones joined me, the dirty 
little Hottentot in my old clothes and smelling of 
tobacco, with themselves when they spoke of you, for 
I knew they were speaking of you, Baas, which made 
me think I must be drunk, even there in the quiet place. 
So I told them all that I had told your reverend father, 
and a very great deal more, for they seemed never to 
be tired of listening. And once, when I mentioned 
that sometimes, while pretending to be asleep, I had 
heard you praying aloud at night for the Missie Marie 
who died for you, and for another who had been your 
wife whose name I did not remember but who had also 
died, they both cried a little, Baas. Their tears shone 
like crystals and smelt like that stuff in a little glass 
tube which Harut said that he brought from some far 
land when he put a drop or two on your handkerchief, 
after you were faint from the pain in your leg at the 
house yonder. Or perhaps it was the flowers that 
smelt, for where the tears fell there sprang up white 
lilies shaped like two babe's hands held together in 

Hearing this, I hid my face in my hands lest Hans 
should see human tears unscented with attar of roses, 
and bade him continue. 

"Baas, the White One who was called Star, asked 
me of your son, the young Baas Harry, and I told her 
that when last I had seen him he was strong and 
well and would make a bigger man than you were, 
whereat she sighed and shook her head. Then the 

302 The Ivory Child 

Missie Marie said : ' Tell the Baas, Hans, that I also 
have a child which he will see one day, but it is not 
a son.' 

" After this they, too, said something about Love, but 
what it was I cannot remember, since even as I repeat 
this dream to you it is beginning to slip away from me 
fast as a swallow skimming the water. Their last words, 
however, I do remember. They were : ' Say to the 
Baas that we who never met in life, but who here are as 
twin sisters, wait and count the years and count the 
months and count the days and count the hours and 
count the minutes and count the seconds until once 
more he shall hear our voices calling to him across the 
night.' That's what they said, Baas. Then they were 
gone and only the flowers remained to show that they 
had been standing there. 

"Now I set off to bring you the message and travelled 
a very long way at a great rate; if Jana himself had 
been after me I could not have gone more fast. At 
last I got out of that quiet place and among mountains 
where were dark kloofs, and there in the kloofs I heard 
Zulu impis singing their war-song; yes, they sang the 
ingoma or something very like it. Now suddenly in a 
pass of the mountains along which I sped, there ap- 
peared before me a very beautiful woman whose skin 
shone like the best copper coffee kettle after I have 
polished it, Baas. She was dressed in a leopard-hide 
moocha and wore on her shoulders a fur kaross, and 
about her neck a circlet of blue beads, and from her 
hair there rose one crane's feather tall as a walking-stick, 
and in her hand she held a little spear. No flowers 
sprang beneath her feet when she walked towards me 
and no birds sang, only the air was filled with the 
sound of a royal salute which rolled among the moun- 
tains like the roar of thunder, and her eyes flashed like 
summer lightning." 

Allan Quatermain Misses 303 

Now I let my hands fall and stared at him, for well 
I knew what was coming. 

" ' Stand, yellow man ! ' she said, * and give me the 
royal salute.' 

"So I gave her the Bayete, though who she might 
be I did not know, since I did not think it wise to stay 
to ask her if it were hers of right, although I should 
have liked to do so. Then she said : ' The Old Man on 
the plain yonder and those two pale White Ones have 
talked to you of their love for your master, the Lord 
Macumazana. I tell you, little Yellow Dog, that they 
do not know what love can be. There is more love 
for him in my eyes alone than they have in all that 
makes them fair. Say to the Lord Macumazana that, 
as I know well, he goes down to battle and that the Lady 
Mameena will be with him in the battle as, though he 
saw her not, she has been with him in other battles, 
and will be with him till the River of Time has run 
over the edge of the world and is lost beyond the sun. 
Let him remember this when Jana rushes on and death 
is very near to him to-day, and let him look for then 
perchance he shall see me. Begone now, Yellow Dog, 
to the heels of your master, and play your part well in 
the battle, for of what you do or leave undone you shall 
give account to me. Say that Mameena sends her 
greetings to the Lord Macumazana and that she adds 
this, that when the Old Man and the White Ones told 
you that Love is the secret blood of the worlds which 
makes them to be they did not lie. Love reigns and I, 
Mameena, am its priestess and the heart of Macuma- 
zana is my holy house.' 

"Then, Baas, I tumbled off a precipice and woke up 
here ; and, Baas, as we may not light a fire I have kept 
some coffee hot for you buried in warm ashes," and 
without another word he went to fetch that coffee, 
leaving me shaken and amazed. 

304 The Ivory Child 

For what kind of a dream was it which revealed to 
an old Hottentot all these mysteries and hidden things 
about persons whom he had never seen and of whom 
I had never spoken to him ? My father and my wife 
Marie might be explained, for with these he had been 
mixed up, but how about Stella and above all Mameena, 
although of course it was possible that he had heard of 
the latter, who made some stir in her time ? But to hit 
her off as he had done in all her pride, splendour and 
dominion of desire ! 

Well, that was his story which, perhaps fortunately, 
I lacked time to analyse or brood upon, since there was 
much in it calculated to unnerve a man just entering the 
crisis of a desperate fray. Indeed a minute or so later, 
as I was swallowing the last of the coffee, messengers 
arrived about some business, I forget what, sent by 
Ragnall I think, who had risen before I woke. I turned 
to give the pannikin to Hans, but he had vanished in 
his snake-like fashion, so I threw it down upon the 
ground and devoted my mind to the question raised in 
Ragnall's message. 

Next minute scouts came in who had been watching 
the camp of the Black Kendah all night. 

These were sleeping not more than half a mile away, 
in an open place on the slope of the hill with pickets 
thrown out round them, intending to advance upon us, 
it was said, as soon as the sun rose, since because of 
their number they feared lest to march at night should 
throw them into confusion and, in case of their falling 
into an ambush, bring about a disaster. Such at least 
was the story of two spies whom our people had cap- 
tured and threatened with death unless they spoke the 

There had been some question as to whether we 
should not attempt a night attack upon their camp, of 

Allan Quatermain Misses 305 

which I was rather in favour. After full debate, how- 
ever, the idea had been abandoned, owing to the fewness 
of our numbers, the dislike which the White Kendah 
shared with the Black of attempting to operate in the 
dark, and the well chosen position of our enemy, whom 
it would be impossible to rush before we were discovered 
by their outposts. What I hoped in my heart was that 
they might try to rush us, notwithstanding the story of 
the two captured spies, and in the gloom, after the moon 
had sunk low and before the dawn came, become en- 
tangled in our pitfalls and outlying entrenchments, 
where we should be able to destroy a great number of 
them. Only on the previous afternoon that cunning 
old fellow, Hans, had pointed out to me how advan- 
tageous such an event would be to our cause and, while 
agreeing with him, I suggested that probably the Black 
Kendah knew this as well as we did, as the prisoners 
had told us. 

Yet that very thing happened, and through Hans 
himself. Thus : Old Harut had come to me just one 
hour before the dawn to inform me that all our people 
were awake and at their stations, and to make some last 
arrangements as to the course of the defence, also about 
our final concentration behind the last line of walls and 
in the first court of the temple, if we should be driven 
from the outer entrenchments. He was telling me that 
the Oracle of the Child had uttered words at the cere- 
mony that night which he and all the priests considered 
were of the most favourable import, news to which I 
listened with some impatience, feeling as I did that this 
business had passed out of the range of the Child and 
its Oracle. As he spoke, suddenly through the silence 
that precedes the dawn, there floated to our ears the un- 
mistakable sound of a rifle. Yes, a rifle shot, half a 
mile or so away, followed by the roaring murmur of a 
great camp unexpectedly alarmed at night. 

3o6 The Ivory Child 

"Who can have fired that?" I asked. "The Black 
Kendah have no guns." 

He replied that he did not know, unless some of my 
fifty men had left their posts. 

While we were investigating- the matter, scouts 
rushed in with the intelligence that the Black Kendah, 
thinking apparently that they were being attacked, had 
broken camp and were advancing towards us. We 
passed a warning all down the lines and stood to arms. 
Five minutes later, as I stood listening to that approach- 
ing roar, filled with every kind of fear and melancholy 
foreboding such as the hour and the occasion might well 
have evoked, through the gloom, which was dense, 
the moon being hidden behind the hill, I thought 
I caught sight of something running towards me like a 
crouching man. I lifted my rifle to fire but, reflecting 
that it might be no more than a hyena and fearing to 
provoke a fusillade from my half trained company, did 
not do so. 

Next instant I was glad indeed, for immediately on 
the other side of the wall behind which I was standing 
I heard a well-known voice gasp out : 

"Don't shoot, Baas, it is I." 

" What have you been doing, Hans ? " I said as he 
scrambled over the wall to my side, limping a little as I 

"Baas," he puffed, "I have been paying the Black 
Kendah a visit. I crept down between their stupid 
outposts, who are as blind in the dark as a bat in day- 
light, hoping to find Jana and put a bullet into his leg 
or trunk. I didn't find him, Baas, although I heard 
him. But one of their captains stood up in front of a 
watchfire, giving a good shot. My bullet found him, 
Baas, for he tumbled back into the fire making the 
sparks fly this way and that. Then I ran and, as you 
see, got here quite safely." 

Allan Quatermain Misses 307 

"Why did you play that fool's trick?" I asked, 
"seeing that it ought to have cost you your life." 

"I shall die just when I have to die, not before, 
Baas," he replied in the intervals of reloading the little 
rifle. "Also it was the trick of a wise man, not of a 
fool, seeing that it has made the Black Kendah think 
that we were attacking them and caused them to hurry 
on to attack us in the dark over ground that they do 
not know. Listen to them coming ! " 

As he spoke a roar of sound told us that the great 
charge had swept round a turn there was in the pass and 
was heading towards us up the straight. Ivory horns 
brayed, captains shouted orders, the very mountain 
shook beneath the beating of thousands of feet of men 
and horses, while in one great yell that echoed from the 
cliffs and forests went up the battle-cry of "/ana/ 
Jana! " a mixed tumult of noise which contrasted very 
strangely with the utter silence in our ranks. 

"They will be among the pitfalls presently," 
sniggered Hans, shifting his weight nervously from 
one leg on to the other. " Hark ! they are going into 

It was true. Screams of fear and pain told me that 
the front ranks had begun to fall, horse and foot to- 
gether, into the cunningly devised snares of which with 
so much labour we had dug many, concealing them 
with earth spread over thin wickerwork, or rather inter- 
laced boughs. Into them went the forerunners, to be 
pierced by the sharp, fire-hardened stakes set at the 
bottom of each pit. Vainly did those who were near 
enough to understand their danger call to the ranks 
behind to stop. They could not or would not compre- 
hend, and had no room to extend their front. Forward 
surged the human torrent, thrusting all in front of it 
to death by wounds or suffocation in those deadly holes, 
till one by one they were filled level with the ground 

308 The Ivory Child 

by struggling men and horses, over whom the army 
still rushed on. 

How many perished there I do not know, but after 
the battle was over we found scarcely a pit that was 
not crowded to the brim with dead. Truly this device 
of Ragnall's, for if I had conceived the idea, which was 
unfamiliar to the Kendah, it was he who carried it out 
in so masterly a fashion, had served us well. 

Still the enemy surged on, since the pits were only 
large enough to hold a tithe of them, till at length, 
horsemen and footmen mixed up together in inextric- 
able confusion, their mighty mass became faintly 
visible quite close to us, a blacker blot upon the gloom. 

Then my turn came. When they were not more 
than fifty yards away from the first wall, I shouted an 
order to my riflemen to fire, aiming low, and set the 
example by loosing both barrels of an elephant gun at 
the thickest of the mob. At that distance even the most 
inexperienced shots could not miss such a mark, 
especially as those bullets which went high struck 
among the oncoming troops behind, or caught the 
horsemen lifted above their fellows. Indeed, of the first 
few rounds I do not think that one was wasted, while 
often single balls killed or injured several men. 

The result was instantaneous. The Black Kendah 
who, be it remembered, were totally unaccustomed to 
the effects of rifle fire and imagined that we only pos- 
sessed two or three guns in all, stopped their advance as 
though paralysed. For a few seconds there was silence, 
except for the intermittent crackle of the rifles as my 
men loaded and fired. Next came the cries of the 
smitten men and horses that were falling everywhere, 
and then the unmistakable sound of a stampede. 

"They have gone. That was too warm for them, 
Baas," chuckled Hans exultingly. 

"Yes," I answered, when I had at length succeeded 

Allan Quatermain Misses 309 

in stopping the firing, "but I expect they will come 
back with the light. Still, that little trick of yours has 
cost them dear, Hans." 

By degrees the dawn began to break. It was, I 
remember, a particularly beautiful dawn, resembling a 
gigantic and vivid rose opening in the east, or a cup 
of brightness from which many coloured wines were 
poured all athwart the firmament. Very peaceful also, 
for not a breath of wind was stirring. But what a scene 
the first rays of the sun revealed upon that narrow 
stretch of pass in front of us. Everywhere the pitfalls 
and trenches were filled with still surging heaps of men 
and horses, while all about lay dead and wounded men, 
the red harvest of our rifle fire. It was dreadful to 
contrast the heavenly peace above and the hellish 
horror beneath. 

We took count and found that up to this moment 
we had not lost a single man, one only having been 
slightly wounded by a thrown spear. As is common 
among semi-savages, this fact filled the White Kendah 
with an undue exultation. Thinking that as the begin- 
ning was so the end must be, they cheered and shouted, 
shaking each other's hands, then fell to eating the food 
which the women brought them with appetite, chatter- 
ing incessantly, although as a general rule they were a 
very silent people. Even the grave Harut, who arrived 
full of congratulations, seemed as high-spirited as a boy, 
till I reminded him that the real battle had not yet 

The Black Kendah had fallen into a trap and lost 
some of their number, that was all, which was fortunate 
for us but could scarcely affect the issue of the struggle, 
since they had many thousands left. Ragnall, who 
had come up from his lines, agreed with me. As he 
said, these people were fighting for life as well as 
honour, seeing that most of the corn which they needed 

3io The Ivory Child 

for their sustenance was stored in great heaps either in 
or to the rear of the temple behind us. Therefore they 
must come on until they won or were destroyed. How 
with our small force could we hope to destroy this multi- 
tude? That was the problem which weighed upon our 

About a quarter of an hour later two spies that we 
had set upon the top of the precipitous cliffs, whence 
they had a good view of the pass beyond the bend, came 
scrambling down the rocks like monkeys by a route that 
was known to them. These boys, for they were no 
more, reported that the Black Kendah were reforming 
their army beyond the bend of the pass, and that the 
cavalry were dismounting and sending their horses to 
the rear, evidently because they found them useless in 
such a place. A little later solitary men appeared from 
behind the bend, carrying bundles of long sticks to each 
of which was attached a piece of white cloth, a proceed- 
ing that excited my curiosity. 

Soon its object became apparent. Swiftly these 
men, of whom in the end there may have been thirty 
or forty, ran to and fro, testing the ground with spears 
in search for pitfalls. I think they only found a very 
few that had not been broken into, but in front of these 
and also of those that were already full of men and 
horses they set up the flags as a warning that they 
should be avoided in the advance. Also they removed 
a number of their wounded. 

We had great difficulty in restraining the White 
Kendah from rushing out to attack them, which of 
course would only have led us into a trap in our turn, 
since they would have fled and conducted their pur- 
suers into the arms of the enemy. Nor would I allow 
my riflemen to fire, as the result must have been many 
misses and a great waste of ammunition which ere long 
would be badly wanted. I, however, did shoot two or 

Allan Quatermain Misses 

three, then gave it up as the remainder took no notice 

When they had thoroughly explored the ground 
they retired until, a little later, the Black Kendah army 
began to appear, marching in serried regiments and 
excellent order round the bend, till perhaps eight or ten 
thousand of them were visible, a very fierce and awe- 
inspiring impi. Their front ranks halted between three 
and four hundred yards away, which I thought farther 
off than it was advisable to open fire on them with 
Snider rifles held by unskilled troops. Then came a 
pause, which at length was broken by the blowing of 
horns and a sound of exultant shouting beyond the turn 
of the pass. 

Now from round this turn appeared the strangest 
sight that I think my eyes had ever seen. Yes, there 
came the huge elephant, Jana, at a slow, shambling 
trot. On his back and head were two men in whom, 
with my glasses, I recognised the lame priest whom I 
already knew too well and Simba, the king of the Black 
Kendah, himself, gorgeously apparelled and waving a 
long spear, seated in a kind of wooden chair. Round 
the brute's neck were a number of bright metal chains, 
twelve in all, and each of these chains was held by a 
spearman who ran alongside, six on one side and six 
on the other. Lastly, ingeniously fastened to the end 
of his trunk were three other chains to which were 
attached spiked knobs of metal. 

On he came as docilely as any Indian elephant used 
for carrying teak logs, passing through the centre of 
the host up a wide lane which had been left, I suppose 
for his convenience, and intelligently avoiding the pit- 
falls filled with dead. I thought that he would stop 
among the first ranks. But not so. Slackening his 
pace to a walk he marched forward towards our fortifica- 
tions. Now, of course, I saw my chance and made sure 

312 The Ivory Child 

that my double-barrelled elephant rifle was ready and 
that Hans held a second rifle, also double-barrelled and 
of similar calibre, full-cocked in such a position that I 
could snatch it from him in a moment. 

"I am going to kill that elephant," I said. "Let 
no one else fire. Stand still and you shall see the god 
Jana die." 

Still the enormous beast floundered forward; up to 
that moment I had never realised how truly huge it was, 
not even when it stood over me in the moonlight about 
to crush me with its foot. Of this I am sure, that none 
to equal it ever lived in Africa, at least in any times of 
which I have knowledge. 

"Fire, Baas," whispered Hans, "it is near enough." 

But like the Frenchman and the cock pheasant, I 
determined to wait until it stopped, wishing to finish 
it with a single ball, if only for the prestige of the 

At length it did stop and, opening its cavern of a 
mouth, lifted its great trunk and trumpeted, while 
Simba, standing up in his chair, began to shout out 
some command to us to surrender to the god Jana, "the 
Invincible, the Invulnerable." 

"I will show you if you are invulnerable, my boy," 
said I to myself, glancing round to make sure that Hans 
had the second rifle ready and catching sight of Rag- 
nail and Harut and all the White Kendah standing up 
in their trenches, breathlessly awaiting the end, as were 
the Black Kendah a few hundred yards away. Never 
could there have been a fairer shot and one more certain 
to result in a fatal wound. The brute's head was up 
and its mouth was open. All I had to do was to send 
a hard-tipped bullet crashing through the palate to the 
brain behind. It was so easy that I would have made 
a bet that I could have finished him with one hand tied 
behind me. 

Allan Quatermain Misses 313 

I lifted the heavy rifle. I got the sights dead on to 
a certain spot at the back of that red cave. I pressed the 
trigger ; the charge boomed and nothing happened ! 
I heard no bullet strike and Jana did not even take the 
trouble to close his mouth. 

An exclamation of " O-oh ! " went up from the 
watchers. Before it had died away the second bullet 
followed the first, with the same result or rather lack of 
result, and another louder "O-oh!" arose. Then Jana 
tranquilly shut his mouth, having finished trumpeting, 
and as though to give me a still better target, turned 
broadside on and stood quite still. 

With an inward curse I snatched the second rifle 
and aiming behind the ear at a spot which long ex- 
perience told me covered the heart let drive again, first 
one barrel and then the other. 

Jana never stirred. No bullet thudded. No mark 
of blood appeared upon his hide. The horrible thought 
overcame me that I, Allan Quatermain, I the famous 
shot, the renowned elephant-hunter, had four times 
missed this haystack of a brute from a distance of forty 
yards. So great was my shame that I think I almost 
fainted. Through a kind of mist I heard various 
ejaculations : 

"Great Heavens ! " said Ragnall. 

"Allemagte!" remarked Hans. 

"The Child help us ! " muttered Harut. 

All the rest of them stared at me as though I were a 
freak or a lunatic. Then somebody laughed nervously, 
and immediately everybody began to laugh. Even the 
distant army of the Black Kendah became convulsed 
with roars of unholy merriment and I, Allan Quater- 
main, was the centre of all this mockery, till I felt as 
though I were going mad. Suddenly the laughter 
ceased and once more Simba the King began to roar 
out something about "Jana the Invincible and In- 

314 The Ivory Child 

vulnerable," to which the White Kendah replied with 
cries of "Magic " and "Bewitched ! Bewitched ! " 

"Yes," yelled Simba, "no bullet can touch Jana the 
god, not even those of the white lord who was brought 
from far to kill him." 

Hans leaped on to the top of the wall, where he 
danced up and down like an intoxicated monkey, and 
screamed : 

"Then where is Jana's left eye? Did not my 
bullet put it out like a lamp ? If Jana is invulnerable, 
why did my bullet put out his left eye ? " 

Hans ceased from dancing on the wall and steadying 
himself, lifted the little rifle Intombi, shouting : 

"Let us see whether after all this beast is a god 
or an elephant." 

Then he touched the trigger, and simultaneously 
with the report I heard the bullet clap and saw blood 
appear on Jana's hide just by that very spot over the 
heart at which I had aimed without result. Of course, 
the soft ball driven from a small-bore rifle with a light 
charge of powder was far too weak to penetrate to the 
vitals. Probably it did not do much more than pierce 
through the skin and an inch or two of flesh behind it. 

Still, its effects upon this " invulnerable " god were of 
a marked order. He whipped round ; he lifted his trunk 
and screamed with rage and pain. Then off he lumbered 
back towards his own people, at such a pace that the 
attendants who held the chains on either side of him 
were thrown over and forced to leave go of him, while 
the king and the priest upon his back could only retain 
their seats by clinging to the chair and the rope about 
his neck. 

The result was satisfactory so far as the dispelling 
of magical illusions went, but it left me in a worse 
position than before, since now it became evident that 
what had protected Jana from my bullets was nothing 

Allan Quatermain Misses 315 

more supernatural than my own lack of skill. Oh I 
never in my life did I drink of such a cup of humiliation 
as it was my lot to drain to the dregs in this most uru 
happy hour. Almost did I hope that I might be killed 
at once. 

And yet, and yet, how was it possible that with all 
my skill I should have missed this towering mountain 
of flesh four times in succession ? The question is one 
to which I have never discovered any answer, especially 
as Hans hit it easily enough, which at the time I wished 
heartily he had not done, since his success only served 
to emphasise my miserable failure. Fortunately, just 
then a diversion occurred which freed my unhappy self 
from further public attention. With a shout and a 
roar the great army of the Black Kendah woke into life. 

The advance had begun. 



ON they came, slowly and steadily, preceded by a cloud 
of skirmishers a thousand or more of these who kept 
as open an order as the narrow ground would allow 
and carried, each of them, a bundle of throwing spears 
arranged in loops or sockets at the back of the shield. 
When these men were about a hundred yards away we 
opened fire and killed a great number of them, also 
some of the marshalled troops behind. But this did 
not stop them in the least, for what could fifty rifles do 
against a horde of brave barbarians who, it seemed, had 
no fear of death ? Presently their spears were falling 
among us and a few casualties began to occur, not many, 
because of the protecting wall, but still some. Again 
and again we loaded and fired, sweeping away those 
in front of us, but always others came to take their 
places. Finally, at some word of command these light 
skirmishers vanished, except those who were dead or 
wounded, taking shelter behind the advancing regiments 
which now were within fifty yards of us. 

Then, after a momentary pause another command 
was shouted out and the first regiment charged in three 
solid ranks. We fired a volley point blank into them 
and, as it was hopeless for fifty men to withstand such 
an onslaught, bolted during the temporary confusion 
that ensued, taking refuge, as it had been arranged that 
we should do, at a point of vantage farther down the 
line of fortifications, whence we maintained our galling 


Allan Weeps 317 

Now it was that the main body of the White Kendah 
came into action under the leadership of Ragnall and 
Harut. The enemy scrambled over the first wall, which 
we had just vacated, to find themselves in a network of 
other walls held by our spearmen in a narrow place 
where numbers gave no great advantage. 

Here the fighting was terrible and the loss of the 
attackers great, for always as they carried one entrench- 
ment they found another a few yards in front of them, 
out of which the defenders could only be driven at much 
cost of life. 

Two hours or more the battle went on thus. In 
spite of the desperate resistance which we offered, the 
multitude of the Black Kendah, who I must say fought 
magnificently, stormed wall after wall, leaving hundreds 
of dead and wounded to mark their difficult progress. 
Meanwhile I and my riflemen rained bullets on them 
from certain positions which we had selected before- 
hand, until at length our ammunition began to run low. 

At half-past eight in the morning we were driven 
back over the open ground to our last entrenchment, a 
very strong one just outside of the eastern gate of the 
temple which, it will be remembered, was set in a 
tunnel pierced through the natural lava rock. Thrice 
did the Black Kendah come on and thrice we beat them 
off, till the ditch in front of the wall was almost full of 
fallen. As fast as they climbed to the top of it the 
White Kendah thrust them through with their long 
spears, or we shot them with our rifles, the nature of 
the ground being such that only a direct frontal attack 
was possible. 

In the end they drew back sullenly, having, as we 
hoped, given up the assault. As it turned out, this 
was not so. They were only resting and waiting for 
the arrival of their reserve. It came up shouting and 
singing a war-song, two thousand strong or more, and 

3i8 The Ivory Child 

presently once more they charged like a flood of water. 
We beat them back. They reformed and charged a 
second time and we beat them back. 

Then they took another counsel. Standing among 
the dead and dying at the base of the wall, which was 
built of loose stones and earth, where we could not 
easily get at them because of the showers of spears 
which were rained at anyone who showed himself, they 
began to undermine it, levering out the bottom stones 
with stakes and battering them with poles. 

In five minutes a breach appeared, through which 
they poured tumultuously. It was hopeless to with- 
stand that onslaught of so vast a number. Fighting 
desperately, we were driven down the tunnel and through 
the doors that were opened to us, into the first court 
of the temple. By furious efforts we managed to close 
these doors and block them with stones and earth. But 
this did not avail us long, for, bringing brushwood and 
dry grass, they built a fire against them that soon 
caught the thick cedar wood of which they were made. 

While they burned we consulted together. Further 
retreat seemed impossible, since the second court of the 
temple, save for a narrow passage, was filled with corn 
which allowed no room for fighting, while behind it 
were gathered all the women and children, more than 
two thousand of them. Here, or nowhere, we must 
make our stand and conquer or die. Up to this time, 
compared with that which we had inflicted upon the 
Black Kendah, of whom a couple of thousand or more 
had fallen, our loss was comparatively slight, say two 
hundred killed and as many more wounded. Most of 
such of the latter as could not walk we had managed 
to carry into the first court of the temple, laying them 
close against the cloister walls, whence they watched us 
in a grisly ring. 

This left us about sixteen hundred able-bodied men 

Allan Weeps 319 

or many more than we could employ with effect in that 
narrow place. Therefore we determined to act upon a 
plan which we had already designed in case such an 
emergency as ours should arise. About three hundred 
and fifty of the best men were to remain to defend the 
temple till all were slain. The rest, to the number of 
over a thousand, were to withdraw through the second 
court and the gates beyond to the camp of the women 
and children. These they were to conduct by secret 
paths that were known to them to where the camels 
were kraaled, and mounting as many as possible of them 
on the camels to fly whither they could. Our hope was 
that the victorious Black Kendah would be too ex- 
hausted to follow them across the plain to the distant 
mountains. It was a dreadful determination, but we 
had no choice. 

"What of my wife?" Ragnall asked hoarsely. 

"While the temple stands she must remain in the 
temple," replied Harut. "But when all is lost, if I have 
fallen, do you, White Lord, go to the sanctuary with 
those who remain and take her and the Ivory Child and 
flee after the others. Only I lay this charge on you 
under pain of the curse of Heaven, that you do not 
suffer the Ivory Child to fall into the hands of the Black 
Kendah. First must you burn it with fire or grind 
it to dust with stones. Moreover, I give this command 
to all in case the priests in charge of it should fail me, 
that they set flame to the brushwood that is built up 
with the stacks of corn, so that, after all, those of our 
enemies who escape the spear may die of famine." 

Instantly and without murmuring, for never did I 
see more perfect discipline than that which prevailed 
among these poor people, the orders given by Harut, 
who in addition to his office as head priest was a kind 
of president of what was in fact a republic, were put in 
the way of execution. Company by company the men 

320 The Ivory Child 

appointed to escort the women and children departed 
through the gateway of the second court, each company 
turning in the gateway to salute us who remained, by 
raising their spears, till all were gone. Then we, the 
three hundred and fifty who were left, marshalled our- 
selves as the Greeks may have done in the Pass of 

First stood I and my riflemen, to whom all the re- 
maining ammunition was served out; it amounted to 
eight rounds per man. Then, ranged across the court 
in four lines, came the spearmen armed with lances 
and swords under the immediate command of Harut. 
Behind these, near the gate of the second court so that 
at the last they might attempt the rescue of the priestess, 
were fifty picked men, captained by Ragnall, who, I 
forgot to say, was wounded in two places, though not 
badly, having received a spear thrust in the left shoulder 
and a sword cut on the left thigh during his desperate 
defence of the entrenchment. 

By the time that all was ready and every man had 
been given to drink from the great jars of water which 
stood along the walls, the massive wooden doors began 
to burn through, though this did not happen for quite 
half an hour after the enemy had begun to attempt to 
fire them. They fell at length beneath the battering 
of poles, leaving only the mound of earth and stones 
which we had piled up in the gateway after the closing 
of the doors. This the Black Kendah, who had raked 
out the burning embers, set themselves to dig away with 
hands and sticks and spears, a task that was made very 
difficult to them by about a score of our people who 
stabbed at them with their long lances or dashed them 
down with stones, killing and disabling many. But 
always the dead and wounded were dragged off while 
others took their places, so that at last the gateway was 
practically cleared. Then I called back the spearmen 

Allan Weeps 321 

who passed into the ranks behind us, and made ready 
to play my part. 

I had not long to wait. With a rush and a roar a 
great company of the Black Kendah charged the gate- 
way. Just as they began to emerge into the court I 
gave the word to fire, sending fifty Snider bullets tear- 
ing into them from a distance of a few yards. They 
fell in a heap ; they fell like corn before the scythe, not 
a man won through. Quickly we reloaded and waited 
for the next rush. In due course it came and the dread- 
ful scene repeated itself. Now the gateway and the 
tunnel beyond were so choked with fallen men that the 
enemy must drag these out before they could charge 
any more. It was done under the fire of myself, Hans 
and a few picked shots somehow it was done. 

Once more they charged, and once more were mown 
down. So it went on till our last cartridge was spent, 
for never did I see more magnificent courage than was 
shown by those Black Kendah in the face of terrific loss. 
Then niy people threw aside their useless rifles and 
arming themselves with spears and swords fell back to 
rest, leaving Harut and his company to take their place. 
For half an hour or more raged that awful struggle, 
since the spot being so narrow, charge as they would, 
the Black Kendah could not win through the spears 
of despairing warriors defending their lives and the 
sanctuary of their god. Nor, the encircling cliffs being 
so sheer, could they get round any other way. 

At length the enemy drew back as though defeated, 
giving us time to drag aside our dead and wounded and 
drink more water, for the heat in the place was now 
overwhelming. We hoped against hope that they had 
given up the attack. But this was far from the case; 
they were but making a new plan. 

Suddenly in the gateway there appeared the huge 
bulk of the elephant Jana, rushing forward at speed and 

322 The Ivory Child 

being urged on by men who pricked it with spears 
behind. It swept through the defenders as though they 
were but dry grass, battering those in front of it with 
its great trunk from which swung the iron balls that 
crushed all on whom they fell, and paying no more 
heed to the lance thrusts than it might have done to the 
bites of gnats. On it came, trumpeting and trampling, 
and after it in a flood flowed the Black Kendah, upon 
whom our spearmen flung themselves from either side. 

At the time I, followed by Hans, was just returning 
from speaking with Ragnall at the gate of the second 
court. A little while before I had retired exhausted 
from the fierce and fearful fighting, whereon he took 
my place and repelled several of the Black Kendah 
charges, including the last. In this fray he received a 
further injury, a knock on the head from a stick or 
stone which stunned him for a few minutes, whereon 
some of our people had carried him off and set him on 
the ground with his back against one of the pillars of 
the second gate. Being told that he was hurt I ran 
to see what was the matter. Finding to my joy that it 
was nothing very serious, I was hurrying to the front 
again when I looked up and saw that devil Jana 
charging straight towards me, the throng of armed men 
parting on each side of him, as rough water does before 
the leaping prow of a storm-driven ship. 

To tell the truth, although I was never fond of 
unnecessary risks, I rejoiced at the sight. Not even 
all the excitement of that hideous and prolonged battle 
had obliterated from my mind the burning sense of 
shame at the exhibition which I had made of myself by 
missing this beast with four barrels at forty yards. 

Now, thought I to myself with a kind of exultant 
thrill, now, Jana, I will wipe out both my disgrace and 
you. This time there shall be no mistake, or if there is, 
let it be my last. 

Allan Weeps 323 

On thundered Jana, whirling the iron balls among 
the soldiers, who fled to right and left leaving a clear 
path between me and him. To make quite sure of 
things, for I was trembling a little with fatigue and 
somewhat sick from the continuous sight of bloodshed, 
I knelt down upon my right knee, using the other as a 
prop to my left elbow, and since I could not make cer- 
tain of a head shot because of the continual whirling of 
the huge trunk, got the sight of my big-game rifle dead 
on to the beast where the throat joins the chest. I hoped 
that the heavy conical bullet would either pierce through 
to the spine or cut one of the large arteries in the neck, 
or at least that the tremendous shock of its impact would 
bring him down. 

At about twenty paces I fired and hit not Jana but 
the lame priest who was filling the office of mahout, 
perched upon his shoulders many feet above the point 
at which I had aimed. Yes ! I hit him in the head, 
which was shattered like an egg-shell, so that he fell 
lifeless to the ground. 

In perfect desperation again I aimed, and fired when 
Jana was not more than thirty feet away. This time 
the bullet must have gone wide to the left, for I saw a 
chip fly from the end of the animal's broken and de- 
formed tusk, which stuck out in that direction several 
feet clear of its side. 

Then I gave up all hope. There was no time to 
gain my feet and escape ; indeed I did not wish to do so, 
who felt that there are some failures which can only be 
absolved by death. I just knelt there, waiting for the end. 

In an instant the gigantic creature was almost over 
me. I remember looking up at it and thinking in a 
queer sort of a way perhaps it was some ancestral 
memory that I was a little ape-like child about to be 
slain by a primordial elephant, thrice as big as any 
that now inhabits the earth. Then something appeared 

324 The Ivory Child 

to happen which I only repeat to show how at such 
moments absurd and impossible things seem real to us. 

The reader may remember the strange dream which 
Hans had related to me that morning. 

One incident of this phantasy was that he had met 
the spirit of the Zulu lady Mameena, whom I knew 
in bygone years, and that she bade him tell me 
she would be with me in the battle and that I was 
to look for her when death drew near to me and "Jana 
thundered on," for then perchance I should see her. 

Well, no doubt in some lightning flash of thought 
the memory of those words occurred to me at this 
juncture, with the ridiculous result that my subjective 
intelligence, if that be the right term, actually created 
the scene which they described. As clearly, or perhaps 
more clearly than ever I saw anything else in my life, 
I appeared to behold the beautiful Mameena in her fur 
cloak and her blue beads, standing between Jana and 
myself with her arms folded upon her breast and look- 
ing exactly as she did in the tremendous moment of 
her death before King Panda. I even noted how the 
faint breeze stirred a loose end of her outspread hair and 
how the sunlight caught a particular point of a copper 
bangle on her upper arm. 

So she stood, or rather seemed to stand, quite 
still ; and as it happened, at that moment the giant 
Jana, either because something had frightened him, 
or perhaps owing to the shock of my bullet striking 
on his tusk having jarred the brain, suddenly pulled 
up, sliding along a little with all his four feet 
together, till I thought he was going to sit down 
like a performing elephant. Then it appeared to me 
as though Mameena turned round very slowly, bent 
towards me, whispering something which I could not 
hear although her lips moved, looked at me sweetly 
with those wonderful eyes of hers and vanished away. 

Allan Weeps 325 

A fraction of a section later all this vision had gone 
and something that was no vision took its place. Jana 
had recovered himself and was at me again with open 
mouth and lifted trunk. I heard a Dutch curse and saw 
a little yellow form ; saw Hans, for it was he, thrust the 
barrels of my second elephant rifle almost into that red 
cave of a mouth, which however they could not reach, 
and fire, first one barrel, then the other. 

Another moment, and the mighty trunk had wrapped 
itself about Hans and hurled him through the air to fall 
on to his head and arms thirty or forty feet away. 

Jana staggered as though he too were about to fall ; 
recovered himself, swerved to the right, perhaps to follow 
Hans, stumbled on a few paces, missing me altogether, 
then again came to a standstill. I wriggled myself round 
and, seated on the pavement of the court, watched what 
followed, and glad am I that I was able to do so, for 
never shall I behold such another scene. 

First I saw Ragnall run up with a rifle and fire two 
barrels at the brute's head, of which he took no notice 
whatsoever. Then I saw his wife, who in this land 
was known as the Guardian of the Child, issuing from 
the portals of the second court, dressed in her goddess 
robes, wearing the cap of bird's feathers, attended by 
the two priestesses also dressed as goddesses as we had 
seen her on the morning of sacrifice, and holding in 
front of her the statue of the Ivory Child. 

On she came quite quietly, her wide, empty eyes 
fixed upon Jana. As she advanced the monster seemed 
to grow uneasy. Turning his head, he lifted his trunk 
and thrust it along his back until it gripped the ankle 
of the king Simba, who all this while was seated there 
in his chair making no movement. 

With a slow, steady pull he dragged Simba from 
the chair so that he fell upon the ground near his left 
foreleg. Next very composedly he wound his trunk 

326 The Ivory Child 

about the body of the helpless man, whose horrified eyes 
I can see to this day, and began to whirl him round and 
round in the air, gently at first but with a motion that 
grew ever more rapid, until the bright chains on the 
victim's breast flashed in the sunlight like a silver wheel. 
Then he hurled him to the ground, where the poor king 
lay a mere shattered pulp that had been human. 

Now the priestess was standing in front of the beast- 
god, apparently quite without fear, though her two 
attendants had fallen back. Ragnall sprang forward 
as though to drag her away, but a dozen men leapt on 
to him and held him fast, either to save his life or 
for some secret reason of their own which I never 

Jana looked down at her and she looked up at Jana. 
Then he screamed furiously and, shooting out his trunk, 
snatched the Ivory Child from her hands, whirled it 
round as he had whirled Simba, and at last dashed it 
to the stone pavement as he had dashed Simba, so that 
its substance, grown brittle in the passage of the ages, 
shattered into ten thousand fragments. 

At this sight a great groan went up from the men of 
the White Kendah, the women dressed as goddesses 
shrieked and tore their robes, and Harut, who stood 
near, fell down in a fit or faint. 

Once more Jana screamed. Then slowly he knelt 
down, beat his trunk and the clattering metal balls upon 
the ground thrice, as though he were making obeisance 
to the beautiful priestess who stood before him, shivered 
throughout his mighty bulk, and rolled over dead ! 

The fighting ceased. The Black Kendah, who all 
this while had been pressing into the court of the temple, 
saw and stood stupefied. It was as though in the 
presence of events to them so pregnant and terrible men 
could no longer lift their swords in war. 

Allan Weeps 327 

A voice called: "The god is dead! The king is 
dead ! Jana has slain Simba and has himself been 
slain ! Shattered is the Child ; spilt is the blood of 
Jana ! Fly, People of the Black Kendah ; fly, for the 
gods are dead and your land is a land of ghosts ! " 

From every side was this wail echoed : " Fly, People 
of the Black Kendah, for the gods are dead ! " 

They turned ; they sped away like shadows, carrying 
their wounded with them, nor did any attempt to stay 
them. Thirty minutes later, save for some desperately 
hurt or dying men, not one of them was left in the 
temple or the pass beyond. They had all gone, leav- 
ing none but the dead behind them. 

The fight was finished. The fight that had seemed 
lost was won ! 

I dragged myself from the ground. As I gained my 
tottering feet, for now that all was over I felt as if I 
were made of running water, I saw the men who held 
Ragnall loose their grip of him. He sprang to where 
his wife was and stood before her as though confused, 
much as Jana had stood, Jana against whose head he 
rested, his left hand holding to the brute's gigantic 
tusk, for I think that he also was weak with toil, terror, 
loss of blood and emotion. 

"Luna," he gasped, "Luna ! " 

Leaning on the shoulder of a Kendah man, I drew 
nearer to see what passed between them, for my curiosity 
overcame my faintness. For quite a long while she 
stared at him, till suddenly her eyes began to change. 
It was as though a soul were arising in their emptiness 
as the moon arises in the quiet evening sky, giving them 
light and life. At length she spoke in a slow, hesitat- 
ing voice, the tones of which I remembered well enough, 
saying : 

" Oh ! George, that dreadful brute," and she pointed 

328 The Ivory Child 

to the dead elephant, "has killed our baby. Look at 
it ! Look at it ! We must be everything to each other 
now, dear, as we were before it came unless God sends 
us another." 

Then she burst into a flood of weeping and fell into 
his arms, after which I turned away. So, to their 
honour be it said, did the Kendah, leaving the pair 
alone behind the bulk of dead Jana. 

Here I may state two things : first, that Lady Rag- 
nail, whose bodily health had remained perfect through- 
out, entirely recovered her reason from that moment. 
It was as though on the shattering of the Ivory 
Child some spell had been lifted off her. What 
this spell may have been I am quite unable to explain, 
but I presume that in a dim and unknown way she 
connected this effigy with her own lost infant and that 
while she held and tended it her intellect remained in 
abeyance. If so, she must also have connected its 
destruction with the death of her own child which, 
strangely enough, it will be remembered, was likewise 
killed by an elephant. The first death that occurred 
in her presence took away her reason, the second seem- 
ing death, which also occurred in her presence, brought 
it back again ! 

Secondly, from the moment of the destruction of her 
boy in the streets of the English country town to that 
of the shattering of the Ivory Child in Central Africa 
her memory was an utter blank, with one exception. 
This exception was a dream which a few days later 
she narrated to Ragnall in my presence. That dream 
was that she had seen him and Savage sleeping 
together in a native house one night. In view of a 
certain incident recorded in this history I leave the 
reader to draw his own conclusions as to this curious 
incident. I have none to offer, or if I have I prefer to 
keep them to myself. 

Allan Weeps 329 

Leaving Ragnall and his wife, I staggered off to 
look for Hans and found him lying senseless near the 
north wall of the temple. Evidently he was beyond 
human help, for Jana seemed to have crushed most of 
his ribs in his iron trunk. We carried him to one of the 
priest's cells and there I watched him till the end, which 
came at sundown. 

Before he died he became quite conscious and talked 
with me a good deal. 

"Don't grieve about missing Jana, Baas," he said, 
"for it wasn't you who missed him but some devil that 
turned your bullets. You see, Baas, he was bewitched 
against you white men. When you look at him closely 
you will find that the Lord Igeza missed him also " 
(strange as it may seem, this proved to be the case), 
"and when you managed to hit the tip of his tusk with 
the last ball the magic was wearing off him, that's 
all. But, Baas, those Black Kendah wizards forgot to 
bewitch him against the little yellow man, of whom they 
took no account. So I hit him sure enough every time 
I fired at him, and I hope he liked the taste of my 
bullets in that great mouth of his. He knew who had 
sent them there very well. That's why he left you 
alone and made for me, as I had hoped he would. Oh ! 
Baas, I die happy, quite happy since I have killed Jana 
and he caught me and not you, me who was nearly 
finished anyhow. For, Baas, though I didn't say 
anything about it, a thrown spear struck my groin when 
I went down among the Black Kendah this morning. 
It was only a small cut, which bled little, but as the 
fighting went on something gave way and my inside 
began to come through it, though I tied it up with a 
bit of cloth, which of course means death in a day or 
two." (Subsequent examination showed me that Hans's 
story of this wound was perfectly true. He could not 
have lived for very long.) 

330 The Ivory Child 

"Baas," he went on after a pause, "no doubt I shall 
meet that Zulu lady Mameena to-night. Tell me, is she 
really entitled to the royal salute ? Because if not, when 
I am as much a spook as she is I will not give it to her 
again. She never gave me my titles, which are good 
ones in their way, so why should I give her the Bayete, 
unless it is hers by right of blood, although I am only 
a little ' yellow dog ' as she chose to call me ? " 

As this ridiculous point seemed to weigh upon his 
mind I told him that Mameena was not even of royal 
blood and in no wise entitled to the salute of kings. 

"Ah!" he said with a feeble grin, "then now I 
shall know how to deal with her, especially as she 
cannot pretend that I did not play my part in the battle, 
as she bade me do. Did you see anything of her when 
Jana charged, Baas, because I thought I did ? " 

"I seemed to see something, but no doubt it was 
only a fancy." 

"A fancy? Explain to me, Baas, where truths end 
and fancies begin and whether what we think are fancies 
are not sometimes the real truths. Once or twice I 
have thought so of late, Baas." 

I could not answer this riddle, so instead I gave him 
some water which he asked for, and he continued : 

"Baas, have you any message for the two Shining 
Ones, for her whose name is holy and her sister, and 
for the child of her whose name is holy, the Missie 
Marie, and for your reverend father, the Predikant ? 
If so, tell it quickly before my head grows too empty 
to hold the words." 

I will confess, however foolish it may seem, that I 
gave him certain messages, but what they were I shall 
not write down. Let them remain secret between me 
and him. Yes, between me and him and perhaps those 
to whom they were to be delivered. For after all, in his 
own words, who can know exactly where fancies end 

Allan Weeps 331 

and truths begin, and whether at times fancies are not 
the veritable truths in this universal mystery of which 
the individual life of each of us is so small a part? 

Hans repeated what I had spoken to him word for 
word, as a native does, repeated it twice over, after 
which he said he knew it by heart and remained silent 
for a long while. Then he asked me to lift him up in 
the doorway of the cell so that he might look at the sun 
setting for the last time, "for, Baas," he added, "I think 
I am going far beyond the sun." 

He stared at it for a while, remarking that from the 
look of the sky there should be fine weather coming, 
"which will be good for your journey towards the Black 
Water, Baas, with all that ivory to carry." 

I answered that perhaps I should never get the ivory 
from the graveyard of the elephants, as the Black 
Kendah might prevent this. 

"No, no, Baas," he replied, "now that Jana is dead 
the Black Kendah will go away. I know it, I know it ! " 

Then he wandered for a space, speaking of sundry 
adventures we had shared together, till quite before the 
last indeed, when his mind returned to him. 

"Baas," he said, "did not the captain Mavovo name 
me Light-in-Darkness, and is not that my name ? When 
you too enter the Darkness, look for that Light; it will 
be shining very close to you." 

He only spoke once more. His words were : 

" Baas, I understand now what your reverend father, 
the Predikant, meant when he spoke to me about Love 
last night. It had nothing to do with women, Baas, 
at least not much. It was something a great deal 
bigger, Baas, something as big as what I feel for you ! " 

Then Hans died with a smile on his wrinkled face. 

I wept ! 



THERE is not much more to write of this expedition, 
or if that statement be not strictly true, not much more 
that I wish to write, though I have no doubt that 
Ragnall, if he had a mind that way, could make a very 
good and valuable book concerning many matters on 
which, confining myself to the history of our adventure, 
I have scarcely touched. All the affinities between this 
Central African worship of the Heavenly Child and its 
Guardian and that of Horus and Isis in Egypt from 
which it was undoubtedly descended, for instance. Also 
the part which the great serpent played therein, as it 
may be seen playing a part in every tomb upon the 
Nile, and indeed plays a part in our own and other 
religions. Further, our journey across the desert to the 
Red Sea was very interesting, but I am tired of describ- 
ing journeys and of making them. 

The truth is that after the death of Hans, like to 
Queen Sheba when she had surveyed the wonders of 
Solomon's court, there was no more spirit in me. For 
quite a long while I did not seem to care at all what 
happened to me or to anybody else. We buried him in 
a place of honour, exactly where he shot Jana before the 
gateway of the second court, and when the earth was 
thrown over his little yellow face I felt as though half 
my past had departed with him into that hole. Poor 
drunken old Hans, where in the world shall I find such 
another man as you were ? Where in the world shall I 
find so much love as filled the cup of that strange heart 
of yours? 


Homewards 333 

I dare say it is a form of selfishness, but what every 
man desires is something that cares for him alone, 
which is just why we are so fond of dogs. Now Hans 
was a dog with a human brain and he cared for me 
alone. Often our vanity makes us think that this has 
happened to some of us in the instance of one or more 
women. But honest and quiet reflection may well 
cause us to doubt the truth of such supposings. The 
woman who as we believed adored us solely has prob- 
ably in the course of her career adored others, or at any 
rate other things. 

To take but one instance, that of Mameena, the Zulu 
lady whom Hans thought he saw in the Shades. She, 
I believe, did me the honour to be very fond of me, 
but I am convinced that she was fonder still of her 
ambition. Now Hans never cared for any living 
creature, or for any human hope or object, as he cared 
for me. There was no man or woman whom he would 
not have cheated, or even murdered for my sake. There 
was no earthly advantage, down to that of life itself, 
that he would not, and in the end did not forgo for 
my sake ; witness the case of his little fortune which he 
invested in my rotten gold mine and thought nothing of 
losing for my sake. 

That is love in excelsis, and the man who has suc- 
ceeded in inspiring it in any creature, even in a low, 
bibulous, old Hottentot, may feel proud indeed. At 
least I am proud and as the years go by the pride in- 
creases, as the hope grows that somewhere in the quiet 
of that great plain which he saw in his dream, I may 
find the light of Hans's love burning like a beacon in 
the darkness, as he promised I should do, and that it 
may guide and warm my shivering, new-born soul 
before I dare the adventure of the Infinite. 

Meanwhile, since the sublime and the ridiculous are 
so very near akin, I often wonder how he and Mameena 

334 The Ivory Child 

settled that question of her right to the royal salute. 
Perhaps I shall learn one day indeed already I have 
had a hint of it. If so, even in the blaze of a new and 
universal Truth, I am certain that their stories will 
differ widely. 

Hans was quite right about the Black Kendah. 
They cleared out, probably in search of food, where to 
I do not know and I do not care, though whether this 
were a temporary or permanent move upon their part 
remains, and so far as I am concerned is likely to re- 
main, veiled in obscurity. They were great blackguards, 
though extraordinarily fine soldiers, and what became 
of them is a matter of complete indifference to me. One 
thing is certain, however, a very large percentage of 
them never migrated at all, for something over three 
thousand of their bodies did our people have to bury 
in the pass and about the temple, a purpose for which 
all the pits and trenches we had dug came in very use- 
ful. Our loss, by the way, was five hundred and three, 
including those who died of wounds. It was a great 
fight and, except for those who perished in the pitfalls 
during the first rush, all practically hand to hand. 

Jana we interred where he fell because we could not 
move him, within a few feet of the body of his slayer 
Hans. I have always regretted that I did not take the 
exact measurements of this brute, as I believe the record 
elephant of the world, but I had no time to do so and 
no rule or tape at hand. I only saw him for a minute 
on the following morning, just as he was being tumbled 
into a huge hole, together with the remains of his 
master, Simba the King. I found, however, that the 
sole wounds upon him, save some cuts and scratches 
from spears, were those inflicted by Hans namely, the 
loss of one eye, the puncture through the skin over the 
heart made when he shot at him for the second time 

Homewards 335 

with the little rifle Intombi, and two neat holes at the 
back of the mouth through which the bullets from 
the elephant-gun had driven upwards to the base of 
the brain, causing his death from haemorrhage on that 

I asked the White Kendah to give me his two 
enormous tusks, unequalled, I suppose, in size and 
weight in Africa, although one was deformed and broken. 
But they refused. These, I presume, they wished to 
keep, together with the chains off his breast and trunk, 
as mementoes of their victory over the god of their foes. 
At any rate they hewed the former out with axes and 
removed the latter before tumbling the carcass into the 
grave. From the worn-down state of the teeth I con- 
cluded that this beast must have been extraordinarily 
old, how old it is impossible to say. 

That is all I have to tell of Jana. May he rest in 
peace, which certainly he will not do if Hans dwells 
anywhere in his neighbourhood, in the region which 
the old boy used to call that of the " fires that do not go 
out." Because of my horrible failure in connection 
with this beast, the very memory of which humiliates 
me to this hour, I do not like to think of it more than I 
can help. 

For the rest the White Kendah kept faith with us in 
every particular. In a curious and semi-religious cere- 
mony, at which I was not present, Lady Ragnall was 
absolved from her high office of Guardian or Nurse to 
a god whereof the symbol no longer existed, though I 
believe that the priests collected the tiny fragments of 
ivory, or as many of them as could be found, and pre- 
served them in a jar in the sanctuary. After this had 
been done women stripped the Nurse of her hallowed 
robes, of the ancient origin of which, by the way, I 
believe that none of them, except perhaps Harut, had 
any idea, any more than they knew that the Child 

336 The Ivory Child 

represented the Egyptian Horus and his lady Guardian 
the moon-goddess Isis. Then, dressed in some native 
garments, she was handed over to Ragnall and thence- 
forth treated as a stranger-guest, like ourselves, being 
allowed, however, to live with her husband in the same 
house that she had occupied during all the period of 
her strange captivity. Here they abode together, lost 
in the mutual bliss of this wonderful reunion to which 
they had attained through so much bodily and spiritual 
darkness and misery, until a month or so later we started 
upon our journey across the mountains and the great 
desert that lay beyond them. 

Only once did I find any real opportunity of private 
conversation with Lady Ragnall. 

This happened after her husband had recovered from 
the hurts he received in the battle, on an occasion when 
he was obliged to separate from her for a day in order 
to attend to some matter in the Town of the Child. I 
think it had to do with the rifles used in the battle, which 
he had presented to the White Kendah. So, leaving 
me to look after her, he went, unwillingly enough, who 
seemed to hate losing sight of his wife even for an hour. 

I took her for a walk in the wood, to that very point 
indeed on the lip of the crater whence we had watched 
her play her part as priestess at the Feast of the First- 
fruits. After we had stood there a while we went down 
among the great cedars, trying to retrace the last part 
of our march through the darkness of that most anxious 
night, whereof now for the first time I told her all the 

Growing tired of scrambling among the fallen 
boughs, at length Lady Ragnall sat herself down upon 
one of them and said : 

"Do you know, Mr. Quatermain, these are the first 
words we have really had alone since that party at 

Homewards 337 

Ragnall before I was married, when, as you may have 
forgotten, you took me in to dinner." 

I replied that there was nothing I recollected much 
more clearly, which was both true and the right thing 
to say, or so I supposed. 

"Well," she said slowly, "you see that after all 
there was something in those fancies of mine which at 
the time you thought would best be dealt with by a 
doctor about Africa and the rest, I mean." 

"Yes, Lady Ragnall, though of course we should 
always remember that coincidence accounts for many 
things. In any case they are done with now." 

"Not quite, Mr. Quatermain, even as you mean, 
since we have still a long way to go. Also in another 
sense I believe that they are but begun." 

"I do not understand, Lady Ragnall." 

"Nor do I, but listen. You know that of anything 
which happened during those months I have no memory 
at all, except of that one dream when I seemed to see 
George and Savage in the hut. I remember my baby 
being killed by that horrible circus elephant, just as the 
Ivory Child was killed or rather destroyed by Jana, 
which I suppose is another of your coincidences, Mr. 
Quatermain. After that I remember nothing until I 
woke up and saw George standing in front of me covered 
with blood, and you, and Jana dead, and the rest." 

"Because during that time your mind was gone, 
Lady Ragnall." 

"Yes, but where had it gone? I tell you, Mr. 
Quatermain, that although I remember nothing of what 
was passing about me then, I do remember a great 
deal of what seemed to be passing either long ago or in 
some time to come, though I have said nothing of it to 
George, as I hope you will not either. It might upset 

" What do you remember ? " I asked. 

338 The Ivory Child 

"That's the trouble; I can't tell you. What was 
once very clear to me has for the most part become 
vague and formless. When my mind tries to grasp it, 
it slips away. It was another life to this, quite a 
different life ; and there was a great story in it of which 
I think what we have been going through is either a 
sequel or a prologue. I see, or saw, cities and temples 
with people moving about them, George and you among 
them, also that old priest, Harut. You will laugh, but 
my recollection is that you stood in some relationship 
to me, either that of father or brother." 

"Or perhaps a cousin," I suggested. 

"Or perhaps a cousin," she repeated smiling, "or 
a great friend; at any rate something very intimate. 
As for George, I don't know what he was, or Harut 
either. But the odd thing is that little yellow man, 
Hans, whom I only saw once living for a few minutes 
that I can remember, comes more clearly back to my 
mind than any of you. He was a dwarf, much stouter 
than when I saw him the other day, but very like. I 
recall him curiously dressed with feathers and holding 
an ivory rod, seated upon a stool at the feet of a great 
personage a king I think. The king asked him 
questions, and everyone listened to his answers. That 
is all, except that the various scenes seemed to be 
flooded with continual sunlight." 

"Which is more than this place is. I think we had 
better be moving, Lady Ragnall, or you will catch a 
chill under these damp cedars." 

I said this because I did not wish to pursue the 
conversation. I considered it too exciting under all her 
circumstances, especially as I perceived that mystical 
look gathering on her face and in her beautiful eyes, 
which I remembered noting before she was married. 

She read my thoughts at once and answered with a 
little laugh : 

Homewards 339 

"Yes, it is damp; but you know I am very strong 
and damp will not hurt me. For the rest you need not 
be afraid, Mr. Quatermain. I did not lose my mind. 
It was taken from me by some power and sent to live 
elsewhere. Now it has been given back and I do not 
think it will be taken again in that way." 

"Of course it won't," I exclaimed confidently. 
" Whoever dreamed of such a thing ? " 

" You did," she answered, looking me in the eyes. 
"Now before we go I want to say one more thing. 
Harut and the head priestess have made me a present. 
They have given me a box full of that herb they called 
tobacco, but of which I have discovered the real name 
is Taduki. It is the same that they burned in the bowl 
when you and I saw visions at Ragnall Castle, which 
visions, Mr. Quatermain, by another of your coin- 
cidences, have since been translated into facts." 

"I know. We saw you breathe that smoke again 
as priestess when you uttered the prophecy as Oracle 
of the Child at the Feast of the First-fruits. But what 
are you going to do with this stuff, Lady Ragnall ? I 
think you have had enough of visions just at present." 
"So do I, though to tell you the truth I like them. 
I am going to keep it and do nothing as yet. Still, I 
want you always to remember one thing don 't laugh 
at me" here again she looked me in the eyes "that 
there is a time coming, some way off I think, when I 
and you no one else, Mr. Quatermain will breathe 
that smoke again together and see very strange things." 
"No, no!" I replied, "I have given up tobacco of 
the Kendah variety; it is too strong for me." 

"Yes, yes!" she said, "for something that is 
stronger than the Kendah tobacco will make you do it 
when I wish." 

"Did Harut tell you that, Lady Ragnall?" 

"I don't know," she answered confusedly "I think 

340 The Ivory Child 

the Ivory Child told me; it used to talk to me often. 
You know that Child isn't really destroyed. Like my 
reason that seemed to be lost, it has only gone back- 
wards or forwards where you and I shall see it again. 
You and I and no others unless it be the little yellow 
man. I repeat that I do not know when that will be. 
Perhaps it is written in those rolls of papyrus, which 
they have given me also, because they said they 
belonged to me who am ' the first priestess and the 
last.' They told me, however, or perhaps," she added, 
passing her hand across her forehead, " it was the Child 
who told me, that I was not to attempt to read them 
or rather have them read, until after a great change in 
my life. What the change will be I do not know." 

"And had better not inquire, Lady Ragnall, since 
in this world most changes are for the worse." 

"I agree, and shall not inquire. Now I have spoken 
to you like this because I felt that I must do so. Also 
I want to thank you for all you have done for me and 
George. Probably we shall not talk in such a way 
again ; as I am situated the opportunity will be lacking, 
even if the wish is present. So once more I thank you 
from my heart. Until we meet again I mean really 
meet good-bye," and she held her right hand to me 
in such a fashion that I knew she meant me to kiss it. 

This I did very reverently and we walked back to the 
temple almost in silence. 

That month of rest, or rather the last three weeks of 
it, since for the first few days after the battle I was 
quite prostrate, I occupied in various ways, amongst 
others in a journey with Harut to Simba Town. This 
we made after our spies had assured us that the Black 
Kendah were really gone somewhere to the south-west, 
in which direction fertile and unoccupied lands were said 
to exist about three hundred miles away. It was with 

Homewards 341 

very strange feelings that I retraced our road and looked 
once more upon that wind-bent tree still scored with the 
marks of Jana's tusk, in the boughs of which Hans and 
I had taken refuge from the monster's fury. Crossing 
the river, quite low now, I travelled up the slope down 
which we had raced for our very lives and came to the 
melancholy lake and the cemetery of dead elephants. 

Here all was unchanged. There was the little mount 
worn by his feet, on which Jana was wont to stand. 
There were the rocks behind which I had tried to hide, 
and near to them some crushed human bones which I 
knew to be those of the unfortunate Marut. These we 
buried with due reverence on the spot where he had 
fallen, I meanwhile thanking God that my own bones 
were not being interred at their side, as but for Hans 
would have been the case if they were ever interred 
at all. All about lay the skeletons of dead elephants, 
and from among these we collected as much of the best 
ivory as we could carry, namely about fifty camel loads. 
Of course there was much more, but a great deal of the 
stuff had been exposed for so long to sun and weather 
that it was almost worthless. 

Having sent this ivory back to the Town of the 
Child, which was being rebuilt after a fashion, we went 
on to Simba Town through the forest, dispatching 
pickets ahead of us to search and make sure that it was 
empty. Empty it was indeed; never did I see such a 
place of desolation. 

The Black Kendah had left it just as it stood, except 
for a pile of corpses which lay around and over the altar 
in the market-place, where the three poor camelmen 
were sacrificed to Jana, doubtless those of wounded 
men who had died during or after the retreat. The 
doors of the houses stood open, many domestic articles, 
such as great jars resembling that which had been 
set over the head of the dead man whom we were 

342 The Ivory Child 

commanded to restore to life, and other furnitures lay 
about because they could not be carried away. So did 
a great quantity of spears and various weapons of war, 
whose owners being killed would never want them 
again. Except a few starved dogs and jackals no living 
creature remained in the town. It was in its own way 
as waste and even more impressive than the graveyard 
of elephants by the lonely lake. 

"The curse of the Child worked well," said Harut 
to me grimly. "First, the storm; the hunger; then the 
battle; and now the misery of flight and ruin." 

"It seems so," I answered. "Yet that curse, like 
others, came back to roost, for if Jana is dead and his 
people fled, where are the Child and many of its 
people ? What will you do without your god, Harut ? " 

"Repent us of our sins and wait till the Heavens 
send us another, as doubtless they will in their own 
season," he replied very sadly. 

I wonder whether they ever did and, if so, what 
form that new divinity put on. 

I slept, or rather did not sleep, that night in the same 
guest-house in which Marut and I had been imprisoned 
during our dreadful days of fear, reconstructing in my 
mind every event connected with them. Once more I 
saw the fires of sacrifice flaring upon the altar and 
heard the roar of the dancing hail that proclaimed the 
ruin of the Black Kendah as loudly as the trumpet of a 
destroying angel. Very glad was I when the morning 
came at length and, having looked my last upon Simba 
Town, I crossed the moats and set out homewards 
through the forest whereof the stripped boughs also 
spoke of death, though in the spring these would grow 
green again. 

Ten days later we started from the Holy Mount, a 
caravan of about a hundred camels, of which fifty were 

Homewards 343 

laden with the ivory and the rest ridden by our escort 
under the command of Harut and our three selves. 
But there was an evil fate upon this ivory, as on every- 
thing else that had to do with Jana. Some weeks later 
in the desert a great sandstorm overtook us in which 
we barely escaped with our lives. At the height of the 
storm the ivory-laden camels broke loose, flying before 
it. Probably they fell and were buried beneath the 
sand; at any rate of the fifty we only recovered ten. 

Ragnall wished to pay me the value of the re- 
maining loads, which ran into thousands of pounds, 
but I would not take the money, saying that it was out- 
side of our bargain. Sometimes since then I have 
thought that I was foolish, especially when on glancing 
at that codicil to his will in after days, the same which 
he had given me before the battle, I found that he had 
set me down for a legacy of ; 10,000. But in such 
matters every man must follow his own instinct. 

The White Kendah, an unemotional people 
especially now when they were mourning for their lost 
god and their dead, watched us go without any demon- 
stration of affection, or even of farewell. Only those 
priestesses who had attended upon the person of Lady 
Ragnall while she played a divine part among them 
wept when they parted from her, and uttered prayers 
that they might meet her again "in the presence of the 

The pass through the great mountains proved hard 
to climb, as the foothold for the camels was bad. But 
we managed it at last, most of the way on foot, pausing 
a little while on their crest to look our last for ever at 
the land which we had left, where the Mount of the Child 
was still dimly visible. Then we descended their farther 
slope and entered the northern desert. 

Day after day and week after week we travelled 
across that endless desert by a way known to Harut on 

344 The Ivory Child 

which water could be found, the only living things in 
all its vastness, meeting with no accidents save that 
of the sandstorm in which the ivory was lost. I was 
much alone during that time, since Harut spoke little 
and Ragnall and his wife were naturally wrapped up 
in each other. 

At length, months later, we struck a little port on 
the Red Sea, of which I forget the Arab name, a place 
as hot as the infernal regions. Shortly afterwards, by 
great good luck, two trading vessels put in for water, 
one bound for Aden, in which I embarked en route 
for Natal, and the other for the port of Suez, whence 
Ragnall and his wife could travel Qverland to Alex- 

Our parting was so hurried at the last, as is often the 
way after long fellowship, that beyond mutual thanks 
and good wishes we said little to one another. I can see 
them now standing with their arms about each other 
watching me disappear. Concerning their future there 
is so much to tell that of it I shall say nothing ; at any 
rate here and now, except that Lady Ragnall was right. 
She and I did not part for the last time. 

As I shook old Harut's hand in farewell he told me 
that he was going on to Egypt, and I asked him why. 

"Perchance to look for another god, Lord Macu- 
mazana," he answered gravely, "whom now there is no 
Jana to destroy. We may speak of that matter if we 
should meet again." 

Such are some of the things that I remember about 
this journey, but to tell truth I paid little attention to 
them and many others. 

For oh 1 my heart was sore because of Hans. 

F.I3S. 1115 



This book is due on the last date stamped below. 

jul!8 62 



EC'D R.B.R. 


UL 2 B 1965 

A ; j e 
OCT 1 1965 

Mar 15 '6^ 

Mm 1 1967. 

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